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Homeland Security

17 March 2005

Mexican Drug Cartel Members Arrested by U.S. Agents

Drug ring distributed 100 kilograms of cocaine per week

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Ten members of a Mexican drug cartel have been arrested by U.S. agents on charges of drug smuggling, money laundering, and other offenses, announced the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

In a March 16 statement, ICE, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said a squad of U.S. agents in Dallas made the arrests after indictments against the individuals were unsealed that day.

The arrests marked the culmination of an 18-month international drug-smuggling and money-laundering investigation, which involved members of the drug cartel based in Nuevo Leon and Piedras Negras in Mexico.

Contraband seized in the criminal investigation, code-named "Operation Black Eagle," included more than $1.6 million, 194 kilograms of cocaine and seven kilograms of methamphetamine.  The cartel is believed responsible for importing and distributing more than 100 kilograms of cocaine per week, and large-scale smuggling of bulk U.S. currency into Mexico, said ICE.

ICE indicated that the investigation of the drug cartel is ongoing, and additional arrests and seizures are anticipated.

The agency also announced that it had deported 118 foreign nationals -- most of them Mexicans -- on a March 11 U.S. government flight that removed criminal aliens from the United States.  The flight also included four Filipinos, three Guatemalans, one Honduran, and one Salvadoran, all of whom were transferred to other flights at the Mexican border.

ICE said the deportations, which occur weekly, reflect its commitment to restoring integrity to the U.S. immigration system.  ICE formally removed from the United States more than 160,000 aliens in fiscal year 2004.

The aliens are deported aboard both U.S. commercial and government aircraft.  The government's aircraft is run by the U.S. Marshals Service, under its program called the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS).  JPATS is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world and handles hundreds of requests every day to move prisoners and criminal aliens between judicial districts and correctional institutions in the United States, and on international flights for removing deportable aliens.

ICE said deported aliens face an automatic 10-year ban from legally re-entering the United States.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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