Thirteen Defendants Charged in Imperial Valley Takedown of Drug Trafficking Network
SAN DIEGO – An indictment was unsealed in federal court today charging 10 alleged members of an Imperial Valley-based methamphetamine distribution network with drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. In addition, three more related defendants were charged today via complaint with drug trafficking offenses.
In a coordinated multi-state takedown that took place yesterday, federal, state, and local law enforcement agents and officers arrested multiple defendants and executed six search warrants in Imperial County. During the searches, agents seized additional narcotics and two firearms. As of today, nine of the thirteen defendants are either in federal or state custody, and the search continues for four defendants. In addition to these seizures and arrests yesterday, during this long-term investigation, law enforcement has seized more than 119 pounds of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs and more than $80,000 in cash.
According to the indictment and other publicly-filed documents, this Imperial Valley-based network allegedly smuggled multi-kilogram quantities of methamphetamine across the international border. The defendants then used cars, the U.S. Mail, and commercial delivery services like FedEx to distribute that methamphetamine to sub-distributors located throughout Imperial County as well as in the state of Minnesota. In addition, the network used a corrections officer to smuggle fentanyl and contraband cellular telephones into Centinela State Prison.
“The results of this long-term investigation reflect the commitment of the DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to stop methamphetamine trafficking networks,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “Together, we will continue the fight against the distributors that are driving addiction in the United States.”
“This case is the culmination of years of work by our agents and prosecutors, alongside our local law enforcement partners, to target a prolific Imperial Valley-based drug trafficking network,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to use every tool we have to stop these drug traffickers and bring them to justice.”
“These arrests are the result of a multi-year collaborative effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “Disrupting these illegal drug distribution networks is a vital step in preventing dangerous drugs from entering our communities, and HSI will continue to use its broad investigative authorities to aggressively investigate and bring to justice anyone who attempts to smuggle drugs across our borders.”
Postal Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division Carroll N. Harris stated, “Operation Gotham City showed when the night is darkest, Postal Inspectors will endure to bring justice to those who criminally misuse the US Mail. I fully commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all the law enforcement agencies involved, which resulted in the success achieved today.”
AGENCIES: United States Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshals Service, United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine, California Highway Patrol, El Centro Police Department, Calexico Police Department, Brawley Police Department, Imperial County Sheriff's Office, Imperial County District Attorney's Office, Imperial Valley - Law Enforcement Coordination Center, Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona
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