Forty-three members of a San Diego-based meth trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel were indicted on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges for their involvement in a distribution ring that reached as far as Abu Dhabi.
The DEA’s joint Narcotics Task Force (NTF) executed more than a dozen search warrants Tuesday as part of a coordinated takedown that resulted in the arrests of 32 defendants as of 1 p.m.
Agents also seized 78 pounds of methamphetamine, four firearms and more than $100,000 in U.S. currency.
The remaining eleven defendants remain on the run.
According to court documents, NTF investigators tapped phones, tracked vehicles, and in some cases went undercover during the year-long sting. The network distributed both meth and gamma-hydroxybutyrae (GHB), also known as the date rape drug, in California and 11 other states, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Cartel payments were made in bulk cash shipments, and on consumer-level money transferring applications like Venmo, Paypal, Cash App and Zelle.
“Today we have completely dismantled this San Diego-based international drug trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “I want to congratulate the outstanding federal, state, and local law enforcement cooperation that resulted in this highly successful investigation. Replicating this kind of aggressive law enforcement takedown is critical to breaking the backs of these criminal networks and continuing our efforts against the Sinaloa Cartel.”
NTF consists of DEA agents and law enforcement from agencies throughout the county. The San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, United States Border Patrol, Escondido Police Department, U.S. Marshalls, United States Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Abu Dhabi police all played a part in the year—long investigation.
Several defendants are scheduled to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Lopez at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.