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More than two dozen people believed to be part of a drug smuggling ring stretching from Sinaloa, Mexico to Southern California have been charged with various offenses after a two-year investigation by the DEA and other agencies, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District. of California announced Tuesday.
Nearly half a million counterfeit fentanyl-containing pills were seized in the operation, along with approximately 112 pounds of methamphetamine, 22 pounds of cocaine, 10 pounds of powdered fentanyl, 9 pounds of heroin and approximately $230,000 in assets.
The 26 suspects, 17 of whom have been arrested, face a variety of charges including international drug smuggling, drug trafficking and conspiracy.
Four of the defendants are Mexican nationals, while the other 22 live in Southern California. Their alleged positions in the drug smuggling operation ranged from the mules carrying the drugs to the dealers in the United States, to those responsible for smuggling the products across the border into Mexico.
MONTANA OFFICIALS REPORT ‘ALARMING NUMBER’ OF RECENT FATAL OVERDOSES LINKED TO FENTANYL
“Drug cartels, such as the Sinaloa Cartel, drive addiction and overdose deaths in the United States,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe said in a statement Tuesday.
“This thorough investigation demonstrates the DEA’s determination to hold drug traffickers accountable for their destruction and to prevent the sale of mass quantities of fentanyl pills and other addictive drugs to our citizens.”
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Fentanyl, a dangerous drug up to 100 times more potent than morphine, is driving the latest phase of America’s opioid crisis.
It was detected in about 75% of the record 107,622 fatal overdoses in the United States last year, according to the CDC.