A group of 12 suspected drug traffickers pleaded not guilty in court Friday of charges including transportation and possession for sale of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and the DEA announced.
The suspects – both men and women – are part of an even larger group of suspected drug cartel traffickers that includes more than two dozen people.
The charges are part of a two-year investigation into a Mexican drug cartel, In a related operation this week, officials seized more than 1,000 pounds of meth, 200 pounds of cocaine and 28 pounds of heroin, the DA’s office said.
The 12 suspects that appeared in court Friday are also facing charges of conspiracy and child endangerment.
Investigators said the defendants worked for a Mexican drug cartel known as the Knights Templar, which mainly focuses on smuggling and trafficking meth across the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is a bunch of thugs -- this is a bunch of greedy thugs making a buck on the backs of people who are mired in the misery of drug use and drug addiction," said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Tomaski.
According to the DA, 16 suspects were arrested in the drug bust operation this week, but another 12 remain at large.
The names of the suspects charged in court were not immediately available.
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