Mexican Cartel Sweep Yields 751 Arrests, $59M

WASHINGTON -- Federal agents have rounded up more than 700 suspects in a wide-ranging crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating inside the United States.

A law enforcement official familiar with the sweep said the arrests culminated in a series of Drug Enforcement Administration raids Tuesday night and Wednesday morning around the country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because authorities were still gathering evidence.

The operation has led to the arrests of 751 individuals and the seizure of $59 million in suspected criminal proceeds, the official said, though it was not immediately clear how many of the arrests came in the overnight raids.

Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce results of the crackdown at an afternoon news conference in Washington.

Operation Xcellerator pushed deep into the cross-border drug trade. Twenty-three tons of narcotics were removed from America's neighborhoods, officials said.

In San Diego, the arrests connected to the operation were actually made last year. The U.S. Attorney for Southern California called it  Operation Money Train. Suspected drug dealers were rounded up in the Imperial Valley, where they were allegedly stashing cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in secret compartments of cars and trucks, and driving those vehicles across the border. Agents also seized more than $9 million in cash from the suspects.

Local prosecutors said Operation Money Train dismantled six separate organized crime cells that were bring tons of illegal drugs across the U.S./Mexico border. Six of the suspects are now facing prison terms of 20 years-to-life if convicted.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice revealed that the arrests made last October were just one part of a huge crackdown on cross-border drug dealing that included the arrest of suspects not only in California and other border states but in places as distant as Maryland and Minnesota.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us