Federal agents on Wednesday cracked down on what they say is a distribution arm of the Sinaloa Cartel's drug ring that uses the Los Angeles area as a hub for drug distribution across the country.
Twenty of the 57 people named in three indictments were arrested Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Twenty people were arrested Wednesday. Two more were already in custody. Eight are on the run in the United States. The other 27 are believed to be in Mexico.
"More than simply seizing large quantities of drugs and money, this investigation was able to identify the top-level, Mexican-based traffickers who directed the transactions, and who thought they were using secure communication devices to commit their crimes," said First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison in the news release. "Our ability to obtain those communications continues to be an important part of our ability to solve these crimes."
The three-year investigation, dubbed Operation Narconetas, netted about 850 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly one ton of cocaine, 93 pounds of heroin, and almost 50 pounds of marijuana, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
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The smugglers ferried methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana across the U.S.-Mexican border in vehicles with secret compartments and stored the drugs in stash houses across Southern California for distribution across the country, officials said.
Authorities hope the crackdown puts a crimp in the drug cartel's operations.
"We expect this case will have a significant impact on the transportation abilities of these organizations," said Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.