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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
November 15, 2001
For additional information, contact:
Michael L. Chapman, Chief, Public Affairs
(202) 307-7977

International Mexican Heroin Investigation, Operation "Landslide" Commences, Results In West Coast Arrests And Seizures As Well As Arrests In Mexico

photo - Mexican Black Tar Heroin
Mexican Black Tar Heroin


photo - 'Ice' Methamphetamine
"Ice" Methamphetamine


photo - Cocaine


photo of Administrator Hutchinson

DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson praised the cooperation of Mexican authorities stating, “This case demonstrates Mexico’s continued commitment in attacking the drug problem. Their cooperation provides clear evidence that Mexican authorities are not only working with the U.S. government to reduce the drug supply, but to incarcerate those responsible.”

Administrator Hutchinson added, “The success of this case speaks volumes. It disrupted an organization that saturated more than 30 U.S. cities in 11 states with cheap, low purity heroin, which resulted in growing heroin abuse from coast to coast.”

On November 15, 2001, Operation “Landslide,” an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation culminated, resulting in 38 U.S. arrests and 5 arrests by Mexican authorities. So far, drug seizures from this operation have totaled over 770 pounds of heroin, 34 pounds of methamphetamine, and 3 kilograms of cocaine. The operation, an international effort involving Mexican authorities, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Customs Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Attorneys Office from several jurisdictions, and at least 20 state and local counterparts, targeted a Mexico-based heroin distribution organization. Authorities were tipped off to the Mexican group almost a year ago following three Southwest Border seizures totaling 253 pounds of Mexican heroin. Further investigation revealed the existence of U.S.-based cells operating in San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles.

During this investigation, authorities learned not only that significant amounts of black tar heroin were entering the U.S. at regular intervals, but that the heroin was often accompanied by smaller amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine. Once inside the United States, the drugs were transported to “stash locations” in California, before being distributed throughout the U.S. Operation Landslide identified distribution cells in 31 cities and 11 states, including 14 cities in California alone, as well as Seattle and Yakima, Washington; Portland, Oregon; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, San Luis, and Nogales, Arizona; Dallas, Del Rio, El Paso, and Laredo, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Once the heroin and other drugs were distributed, U.S. based cell heads located in the various cities collected the proceeds and returned the money to organizational members in Tijuana, Mexico. The investigation documented millions of dollars in returns.

In FY 2001 the U.S. government seized in excess of 700 pounds heroin along the Southwest border in comparison to approximately 386 pounds in FY 2000. This represents more than a 90 percent increase. Of these total seizures, almost 50 percent can be attributed to the Landslide organization.

Federal Agencies participating in Operation Landslide:
Drug Enforcement Administration
United States Customs Service
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service
United States Attorney’s Office
Immigration and Naturalization Service

State / Local Agencies participating in Operation Landslide:
Pomona Police Department
Santa Ana Police Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
St. Louis City Police Department
California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE)
San Francisco Police Department
Oakland Police Department
Hayward Police Department
San Jose Police Department
Fairfield Police Department
Alameda County Narcotics Task Force
San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force
Solano County Narcotics Enforcement Team
San Jose Police Department
Garden Grove Police Department
Huntington Beach Police Department
Orange County DA’s Office- Investigation Section
Santa Ana Police Department
Irvine Police Department
Orange Police Department

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