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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release [print friendly page]
August 6, 2002

Contact: Osvaldo Amaro, Public Information Officer
Phone: 915-832-6130 (office), 915-204-2291 (cellular)

DEA's Chief Of Operations Underscores Significant Impact

photo - Mexican marijuanaSandalio Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) El Paso Field Division, in conjunction with Johnny Sutton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, announced the arrest and indictment of 17 persons involved in a large scale marijuana trafficking and distribution organization based in El Paso, Texas.

Rogelio Guevara, Chief of DEA's worldwide operations, praised the exceptional coordinated efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in four states, which included the Hammond, Indiana Police Department, the Berwyn, Illinois Police Department, DEA Chicago, DEA El Paso and DEA's Regional Enforcement Team (RET). "When law enforcement agencies at all levels of government pool their resources and work together in this manner, we are able to make a significant national impact by dismantling major drug transportation organizations that used El Paso to export their poison to other areas of the country," stated Mr. Guevara.

In the Chicago area 12 other suspects have been charged in connection with this case. The indictments and arrests are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation involving the DEA, The U.S. Border Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, and the El Paso Police Department.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois filed criminal complaints and obtained arrest warrants for 7 of the above individuals associated with these criminal organizations who were in the receiving end of large loads of marijuana in and around Chicago. The State of Indiana has issued warrants for the remaining 5 individuals associated with this organization.

In September 2001, the DEA's El Paso Field Division and the North Central Field Division (Chicago) initiated a criminal investigation into a major marijuana trafficking and distribution organization operating in El Paso, Texas. Because of the complexity of the case, a special DEA Regional Enforcement Team (RET) was deployed to El Paso last February to assist in the investigation. The investigation led authorities to large-scale marijuana transportation coordinators working out of El Paso. These individuals were responsible for sending large marijuana loads to Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia and Woodbine, Kentucky. During the last eleven months, law enforcement authorities in the four states have seized over 25,106 pounds of marijuana and $1.2 million dollars in cash.

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted on all charges, defendants will face long federal prison terms.

Please direct further inquiries to Supervisory Special Agent Osvaldo Amaro, DEA Public Information Officer, at 915-832-6130, or to El Paso Assistant Special Agent in Charge Larry Holifield. For further inquiries regarding the North Central Field Division contact Public Information Officer Gary Boertlein or Assistant Special Agent in Charge William Morley, at 312-353-7875.

Also, for more detailed information, please visit our website at www.dea.gov.

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