WASHINGTON (AFP) – US authorities have arrested nearly 2,000 people on narcotics charges in a 20-month sting targeting Mexico's La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the US Justice Department said Thursday.
The ongoing multi-agency takedown saw 1,985 people arrested, along with the seizure of about $62 million in US dollars, and more than 12 tons of drugs.
The arrests and charges were carried out in 12 states and the US capital Washington in a major operation dubbed "Project Delirium" and the announcement came just two months after Mexican law enforcement officials arrested La Familia leader Jose de Jesus Mendez-Vargas.
"Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia," said administrator Michele Leonhart of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
"Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border."
Among the drugs which were rounded up were 2,773 pounds (1,258 kilograms) of methamphetamine, 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms) of cocaine, 1,005 pounds (456 kilograms) of heroin, 14,818 pounds (6,721 kilograms) of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Project Delirium and other such efforts were "disrupting the operations of Mexican drug cartels in the United States and Mexico."
"The arrests and seizures we are announcing today have stripped La Familia of its manpower, its deadly product and its profit, and helped make communities large and small safer," he added, vowing cooperation with Mexican law enforcement to "diminish and ultimately eliminate" drug cartels.
Since June 1 alone, 221 individuals were arrested across the United States, including over 70 people just Wednesday and Thursday, as part of the operation, according to US Justice Department figures.
Mexico's Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna hailed the "increased information-sharing and collaboration with the DEA," saying it had allowed for more significant arrests and seizures of drugs and money.
Those arrested under the operation were charged with a variety of crimes ranging from distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, money laundering and conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States.
The multi-agency Special Operations Division coordinated the investigative efforts -- with agents culled from the DEA, FBI, US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshals Service and the Justice Department.
More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies participated in the operation.
Yahoo News 21st July 2011