DEC 07 (EL PASO, Texas) – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced the results of “Project Below the Beltway”, a two-year series of investigations targeting the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels and associated violent street gangs as part of on-going strategy against the cartels and their distribution networks in the United States.
The Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels are responsible for smuggling multi-ton quantities of illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, into the United States from Mexico. These cartels also are responsible for laundering millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from their drug trafficking activities. Individuals indicted in the cases have been charged with a variety of crimes, including importation and distribution of controlled substances, money laundering, and weapons offenses.
The series of federal, state, local and international investigations undertaken in Project Below the Beltway began in May 2010 and culminated on December 6, 2012. They involved numerous federal judicial districts and were conducted in 79 U.S. cities and several foreign locations in Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe and elsewhere. To date, this initiative has resulted in 3,780 arrests, and the seizure of 6,100 kilograms of cocaine, 10,284 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,619 pounds of heroin, 349,304 pounds of marijuana, $148 million in U.S. currency, and $38 million in other assets.
In West Texas and New Mexico, 53 individuals were arrested at numerous locations as part of Project Below the Beltway. Of these arrests, 29 are being prosecuted federally, and 24 are being prosecuted in state courts. While made primarily in cases against members of the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels and associated drug trafficking organizations, some of these arrests resulted from investigations targeting synthetic drug distributors and those engaged in the diversion of prescription drugs. In addition to the arrests made during these operations, law enforcement agents and officers in this region seized three pounds of methamphetamine, over 700 pounds of marijuana, some powdered and crack cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, four firearms, and $25,000 in US currency.
“Project Below the Beltway is another example of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in our region and across the country working together to strike a coordinated blow against criminal organizations. Today’s enforcement actions, which are expected to have an immediate positive impact, are part of our ongoing efforts to keep local communities safe,” stated Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, El Paso Division.
The DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) coordinated Project Below the Beltway. Agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of cases arising out of this coordinated effort include the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Customs and Border Protection, the United States Border Patrol, the United States Marshals Service, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the El Paso Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Anthony Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Rio Rancho Police Department, the New Mexico State Police, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Criminal Investigative Division of the United States Army, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Corrales Police Department, the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office, the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, the Ector County Sheriff Office, the Midland Police Department, the Sunland Park Police Department, the Hatch Police Department, the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office, the Pecos County Sheriff’s Office, the Alpine Police Department, Texas’s 34th Judicial District Attorney’s Office (El Paso County), the Midland County District Attorney’s Office, the Ector County District Attorney’s Office, New Mexico’s 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office (Bernalillo County), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.
SOD is a DEA-led, multi-agency, operational coordination center whose mission is to establish seamless law enforcement strategies and operations aimed at dismantling national and international trafficking organizations by attacking their command and control communications.