Friday, July 22, 2011



US arrests 2,000 in anti-drug sting
US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents simulate a raid in their Tactical …
US authorities have arrested nearly 2,000 people on narcotics charges in a 20-month sting targeting Mexico's La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the US Justice Department said Thursday.
The ongoing multi-agency takedown saw 1,985 people arrested, along with the seizure of about $62 million in US dollars, and more than 12 tons of drugs.
The arrests and charges were carried out in 12 states and the US capital Washington in a major operation dubbed "Project Delirium" and the announcement came just two months after Mexican law enforcement officials arrested La Familia leader Jose de Jesus Mendez-Vargas.
"Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia," said administrator Michele Leonhart of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
"Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border."
Among the drugs which were rounded up were 2,773 pounds (1,258 kilograms) of methamphetamine, 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms) of cocaine, 1,005 pounds (456 kilograms) of heroin, 14,818 pounds (6,721 kilograms) of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Project Delirium and other such efforts were "disrupting the operations of Mexican drug cartels in the United States and Mexico."
"The arrests and seizures we are announcing today have stripped La Familia of its manpower, its deadly product and its profit, and helped make communities large and small safer," he added, vowing cooperation with Mexican law enforcement to "diminish and ultimately eliminate" drug cartels.
Since June 1 alone, 221 individuals were arrested across the United States, including over 70 people just Wednesday and Thursday, as part of the operation, according to US Justice Department figures.
Mexico's Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna hailed the "increased information-sharing and collaboration with the DEA," saying it had allowed for more significant arrests and seizures of drugs and money.
Those arrested under the operation were charged with a variety of crimes ranging from distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, money laundering and conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States.
The multi-agency Special Operations Division coordinated the investigative efforts -- with agents culled from the DEA, FBI, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshals Service and the Justice Department.
More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies participated in the operation.

U.S. Alleges Mexican Drug Cartel Rented Apartments in U.S. to Recruit Young Americans
Friday, January 07, 2011
By Edwin Mora

A soldier guards packages containing marijuana as they are shown to reporters in the pouring rain in Tijuana, Mexico, on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)
( - An assistant U.S. attorney told that a federal judge will hear a criminal case later this month involving an offshoot of the Tijuana cartel that is believed to be setting up operations in the United States to recruit young Americans for drug trafficking.
The case shows that U.S. drug cartels are attempting to extend their operations into the United States.
Todd Robinson, the assistant U.S. attorney who will prosecute the alleged drug ring at the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California, said he expects the federal judge who will hear the case on Jan. 26 to set a trial date on that day.
According to the 86-page indictment, Mexican drug cartels have rented apartments in the United States under a franchise scheme aimed at recruiting young Americans into their illicit activities, coordinating drug trafficking operations, as well as kidnapping and extortion on both sides of the southwest border.
The case to be heard stemmed from a long-term investigation dubbed “Operation Luz Verde” (green light), that began in November 2009. The probe was conducted by the multi-agency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force and it reportedly revealed state and federal crimes, including murder, kidnapping, firearms and drug trafficking.
Investigators used court-authorized wiretaps to capture 50,000 phone calls over a six-month period that led to a case against 43 suspects, including some Mexican police officers and top officials, such as Jesus Quinones Marquez, the director of International Liaison for the Baja California Attorney General’s Office.
In that position, Marquez is one of the primary Mexican liaison officials providing information to U.S. law enforcement officers. According to the investigation, Marquez used his position to provide the drug cartel Fernandez Sanchez Organization (FSO) with confidential law enforcement information. He also allegedly arranged the arrest of FSO rivals by Mexican authorities.
The Justice Department indictment was unsealed in late July 2010 and charges 43 defendants with taking part in a federal racketeering conspiracy (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1962(d)). In the complaint, the 43 alleged culprits are said to be members of the FSO, which is an offshoot of the Arellano-Felix drug trafficking ring based in Tijuana.
According to the complaint, FSO “is a transnational drug organization with integrated narcotics and enforcement operations in the United States and Mexico.”
It is described as a “powerful organization that controls drug distribution and other illegal activities in the U.S. and Mexico, and which has increasingly committed acts of violence in Tijuana, San Diego County, and the greater Los Angeles area to expand its influence.”
The hierarchy of command under the leadership of Fernando Sanchez Arellano is comprised of five distinct groups: lieutenants, underbosses, corrupt Mexican officials, crew leaders, and crew members.

A young man lies dead in a public park after being shot to death by unidentified assailants in the municipality of Apodaca on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010. The numbered tags mark bullets casings. (AP Photo/Carlos Jasso)
According to the wiretaps and secret informants, the Fernando Sanchez Organization was operating out of a San Diego apartment it referred to as “The Office.”
The criminal complaint states that Mexican drug cartels are recruiting young Americans in an effort to keep their drug trafficking operations under the radar, including using young women as drug mules to cross from Mexico into the United States.
These “mules” allegedly were paid $100 per trip to smuggle quarter-pound loads of methamphetamine across the border.
The San Diego criminal enterprise also was recruiting members of U.S.-based Latino street gangs, both illegal immigrants and U.S. citizens, and former Mexican police officers, according to the indictment.
Most of the gang members operating in the San Diego office of the accused Mexican cartel are Latino, some illegal aliens and others U.S. citizens, according to the criminal complaint.
The investigation found that the criminal group had safe houses, distributed illicit drugs, trafficked in guns and other weapons, laundered money, committed robberies, and collected drug debts. When debtors failed to pay, they were kidnapped or targeted with execution on both sides of the southwest border.
In one instance, according to the investigation, the accused drug enterprise “placed the defaced headstone of two murder victims in the victims’ family courtyard with a threatening message” in an effort to publicize its enforcement capabilities.
During this investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice for the first time used communication towers on the U.S. side of the border to capture and monitor phone and radio communications used by Mexican drug cartels in the border area and thus were able to show that Mexican drug cartels are moving to expand their grasp into U.S. territory


Lou Dobbs Tonight
And there are some 800,000 gang members in this country: That’s more than the combined number of troops in our Army and Marine Corps. These gangs have become one of the principle ways to import and distribute drugs in the United States. Congressman David Reichert joins Lou to tell us why those gangs are growing larger and stronger, and why he’s introduced legislation to eliminate the top three international drug gangs.

Four in 10 homicides in California are gang-related, Harris said. Those cases also account for 80% of the state's effort to relocate witnesses whose lives are in danger because of their cooperation with law enforcement, she said.
Dozens of Central Valley gang leaders arrested in one-day sweep
By Maura Dolan
2:52 PM PDT, June 8, 2011

Police arrested 75 alleged gang leaders Tuesday in a one-day sweep in the Central Valley for offenses including attempted murder and drug trafficking, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said Wednesday.

The raids, which involved helicopters and canine units, occurred at 50 locations in the cities of Madera, Los Banos, Livingston, Merced, Atwater and Dos Palos as part of the Operation Red Zone crackdown, Harris said.

It was aimed at "ruthless" and "lethal" gang leaders associated with Nuestra Familia, which was started at Folsom State Prison in 1968 and continues to be run out of the state prison system, Harris said. Nuestra Familia controls most of the Nortenos street gangs in Central California and has ties to Mexican drug cartels, according to law enforcement officials.

Growing gang violence in the Central Valley has threatened small farm communities and spawned efforts to keep young people from being recruited.

"Their conduct was terrorizing this community," Harris said at a news conference with other law enforcement officials in Los Banos, "and by extension, their conduct was bleeding through the whole state of California."

Agents from 16 local, state and federal agencies seized more than a dozen firearms, including five assault rifles; methamphetamine; marijuana plants; crack cocaine; and more than $64,000 in cash in the sweeps, authorities said.

Law enforcement officials conceded that the arrests may provoke rival gangs to expand and noted that such sweeps in the past have driven the violence from one community to another.

The operation began in August 2010 when state law enforcement officials discovered that members of Nuestra Familia, largely driven out of Salinas in earlier sweeps, had set up shop in Madera, Merced and other Central Valley cities.

Four in 10 homicides in California are gang-related, Harris said. Those cases also account for 80% of the state's effort to relocate witnesses whose lives are in danger because of their cooperation with law enforcement, she said.

The sweeps this week brought the total number of arrests in the operation to 101 and stemmed from surveillance by the attorney general's Fresno Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, which tracked the daily movements of suspected gang leaders, Harris said. Among those arrested were two senior Nuestra Familia regiment commanders, she said.