It was a big week in the war on drugs, with three record-breaking drug raids in the U. S. and Mexico.On the surface, the raids look like a “victory” for the U.S. drug war strategy, which has come under fire in light of Mexico’s growing drug violence.
The reality, however, is that the raids — their disparate locations, the diversity of the criminals involved, and the sheer volume of drugs found — are evidence of the vast web of organised crime networks linked to Mexico’s drug cartels.
As we have previously written, the cartels are sophisticated, transnational criminal organisations focused on extending their reach far beyond the US-Mexican (and Mexican-Guatemalan) borders. This week’s raids offer a view of how extensive cartel operations have become.
Here’s a breakdown of the drug busts:
- Mexican soldiers in Baja California found a nearly 300-acre marijuana plantation, the largest pot field ever detected in Mexico, according to the AP. Army officials said yesterday that the plants could have harvested about 120 tons of marijuana annually, producing $160 million in free cash flow. Authorities did not know which cartel operated the plantation, but there are signs that the Sinaloa Cartel has expanded its operations in the area. Marijuana remains a large-scale trade for most of Mexico’s drug cartels.
- In Las Vegas, 10 illegal immigrants from Mexico were arrested this week in the largest meth bust Nevada history. The AP reports that federal and local law enforcement authorities seized 212 pounds of meth, with an estimated street value of $5.7 million, as well as four pounds of heroin, $280,000 in cash, six guns, and nine vehicles used for drug trafficking.
- On Wednesday, DEA agents and the NYPD broke up an Albanian drug smuggling ring during simultaneous, large-scale raids in the New York City area, Albany, New Jersey, Colorado, and Florida, 30-seven people were arrested and charged with conspiracy to smuggle and distribute massive amounts of marijuana and cocaine, according to the AP. The transnational drug ring smuggled tens of thousands of kilos of marijuana and cocaine to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada. They also smuggled the cocaine back to Albania in luxury sedans shipped by U.S. dealers.
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