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14 October 2005

U.S. Dismantles Major Mexican Cocaine-Methamphetamine Ring

Traffickers distributed illegal drugs to many U.S. cities, agency says

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. law enforcement authorities have dismantled a major Mexican drug-trafficking organization accused of distributing methamphetamine and cocaine to many U.S. cities.

In an October 13 statement, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said from its office in Atlanta that 28 people have been arrested so far in the first phase of what is called "Operation Long Whine."  DEA agents seized more than $8 million in the operation, 18 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 592 kilograms of cocaine.

The operation is part of DEA's "Money Trail Initiative," a strategy to combat financial crime by attacking the financing of the illegal drug trade to dismantle major drug-trafficking organizations.  (See related article.)

For drug traffickers, "it's all about the money," said DEA Administrator Karen Tandy.  "To decimate the drug trade, we are following drug money back to its source, targeting the laundering networks, and eliminating the profits that fuel drug-trafficking gangs.  DEA will continue to pursue investigations like Operation Long Whine, taking apart drug cartels by bankrupting them."

Based on information discovered during the course of the investigation, the Atlanta-based cell of the Mexican drug ring is alleged to have laundered millions of dollars of proceeds from the trafficking of the illegal drugs.  The drug ring often attempted to transport the laundered money by smuggling it in vehicles back into Mexico to fund its criminal enterprise, DEA said.

The Mexican drug traffickers are alleged to have transported more than 100 kilograms of cocaine per week, often using smaller shipments to minimize the effect of law enforcement seizures.  The operation used car carriers hauling vehicles with false compartments filled with drugs.  In at least one instance, the drug ring also used a large truck hauling pork shoulders and other meat portions to conceal large quantities of cash.

The Bush administration announced August 18 new initiatives to battle the spread of methamphetamine in the United States.  The initiatives build on previous agreements with the governments of Mexico, Panama and China to restrict the conversion of precursor chemicals to methamphetamine in labs in the United States and elsewhere.

The U.S. State Department says in the 2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report that Mexico is a major producer and transit point for methamphetamines, its precursors and other synthetic drugs, principally concentrated in Mexican border areas crossing into the U.S. states of Texas, Arizona and California.  Criminal organizations have established several methamphetamine laboratories in northwestern Mexico to supply U.S. markets, according to the report. 

Additional information about the Bush administration's initiatives is available at the DEA Web site.

(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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