U.S. agents have arrested 1,985 people in a 12-state crackdown on Mexico’s La Familia drug cartel, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.The 20-month sting also led to the seizure of about $62 million U.S. dollars and more than 12 tons of drugs.
The DOJ announcement comes less than a month after Mexican authorities captured La Familia boss Jesus “The Monkey” Mendez. The arrest is thought to have dealt a fatal blow to the pseudo-religious drug cartel.
As we previously reported, La Familia’s power has dwindled since its founder was killed in December 2010. The cartel’s power has largely been usurped by a new, narco-evangelical cartel that calls themselves the Knights Templar that is vying for control of La Familia’s extensive meth operations.
U.S. agents acknowledge that the Mexican army’s strategy of eliminating top cartel leaders has done nothing to stem illegal trafficking across the border. According to a leaked memo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a comparison between drug seizure data and arrests of key organised crime leaders found that the arrests have no effect on the flow of drugs.
“[Cartel] operations appear to have built in redundancy and personnel that perform specific duties to limit the damage incurred by the removal of any one person,” the memo states. “By sheer volume alone, drug operations would require more than one individual to coordinate and control the process.”
The La Familia crackdown was thel largest of at least six anti-drug raids across the U.S. and Mexico this week. as we noted last week, the size and scope of these raids are just further evidence of the growing reach of Mexico’s organised crime networks.
Here’s a rundown of this week’s raids:
- Federal and local law enforcement authorities in Jackson County, Mississippi, this week unveiled the results of a two-year investigation that led to 21 arrests and dismantled a drug trafficking ring with ties to an unnamed Mexican drug cartel operating in Juarez. According to the AP, the head of the operation moved about 50,000 pounds of marijuana and 20 kilos of cocaine into the southeastern U.S. from Mexico in exchange for shipping assault weapons back to the cartel.
- Nearly 40 suspects are in custody in connection with a massive marijuana plantation discovered in Utah. A Drug Enforcement Administration official in Salt Lake City told local television news that the arrests had “decimated” the command and control of a Mexican marijuana trafficking organisation based in California, Nevada and Utah that had “direct ties” to a cartel in Mexico.
- In San Diego, law enforcement officials this week announced the end of a yearlong investigation that led to the arrests of 43 people involved in drugs and weapons trafficking, robbery, home invasions, and kidnappings on both sides of the border. Authorities told the San Diego Union Tribune that some of those arrested had connections to unspecified Mexican drug cartels.
- U.S. customs officials stopped more than 4,000 rounds of ammo and 100 AK-47 magazines going into Mexico at the point of entry in Nogales, Arizona Tuesday, the Tucson Citizen reports. The Arizona points of entry have seen record illicit currency and weapons seizures since the Department of Homeland Security started outbound border security operations in 2009.
- The Mexican army seized nearly 840 tons of meth chemicals from an industrial warehouse 125 miles south of Mexico City, Reuters reports. The seizure, thought to be the largest of its kind, appears to affirm U.S. Justice Department claims that Mexico has become the largest meth supplier in the U.S.
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