The Drug Enforcement Agency seized 2,224 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, which is the largest domestic seizure of the drug in its history, according to a DEA press release. In addition, the agency seized 893 pounds of cocaine and 13 pounds of heroin.
“The significant seizures announced today thwarted drug traffickers’ plans to profit from these dangerous drugs that cause incredible harm to our communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in the press release. “The Justice Department is committed to making our neighborhoods safer by aggressively disrupting drug cartel operations in the United States.”
The DEA, along with local and state law enforcement agencies, started investigating a large drug trafficking organization with connections to the Sinaloa cartel. They found that this organization was trafficking large amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine.
The combined task force started surveilling the drug trafficking organization on Oct. 2. According to the press release, “agents identified a Southern California-based narcotics courier/stash house manager along with multiple locations and vehicles associated with the courier and the DTO,” or drug trafficking organization.
After surveilling and gathering further intelligence on the suspects, the combined task force of federal, state, and local law enforcement raided multiple houses, locating the drugs.
Inside the courier’s residence, agents discovered approximately 895 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin, and 650 pounds of methamphetamine. All the drugs were contained in approximately 25 duffel bags. Agents located another 1,600 pounds of methamphetamine in a separate building identified as the narcotics stash house.
“The largest DEA domestic seizure of methamphetamine in history is a significant blow to the cartels, but more importantly it is a gigantic victory for communities throughout Southern California and the United States who have had to deal with the torrent of methamphetamine coming into their neighborhoods,” said Acting Administrator Timothy Shea in the press release. “We continue to work with our state and local partners to attack drug trafficking at all levels and this seizure sends a clear message that we mean business.”
The Sinaloa cartel, based out of Mexico, is considered to be one of the most powerful organized crime syndicates in the world and a leader in the illegal world of narcotics. The prior leader of the cartel, Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, aka El Chapo, founded the cartel in 1989. After a long record of crime, arrests, and subsequent escapes, Guzman was arrested in Mexico for the last time and extradited to the US, where he was given a life sentence plus an additional 30 years.
Despite Guzman’s arrest, the Sinaloa cartel has remained a powerful entity up until current times. The US has been combatting the cartel’s drug trade and other nefarious activities. Operation Crystal Shield began on Feb. 20 and targeted the command and control elements of the Mexican cartels that operate major methamphetamine transport and distribution chains in the US. The operation spanned across the US and other parts of the world, such as Guam.
The operation concluded on Sept. 10, according to the DEA, with a total of approximately 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.