Local and federal authorities moved Thursday to break up an alleged drug trafficking ring connecting a major Mexican cartel and San Gabriel Valley street gangs, arresting 17 people in a pre-dawn sweep. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges 27 defendants with making, possessing and dealing methamphetamine imported by La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent cartels, to two Pomona gangs: Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos. Seven law enforcement agencies, including the Pasadena and Pomona police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were involved in the sweep. Thursday’s crackdown is the culmination of a probe called Operation Crystal Light, a 16-month investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The investigation was launched after a 2011 kidnapping among suspected gang members in Southern California. Officers said they seized nine weapons, an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, other drugs, and paraphernalia in Thursday morning raids in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The probe involved about 200 law enforcement officers and several undercover purchases. “The goal of the federal task force is to disrupt the network so it’s disrupted permanently,” Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles, said. “Today’s arrests took some very serious players in the methamphetamine world off the streets.” The methamphetamine came into the country in liquid form via airplane, boats and cars, officials said. The drug was recrystallized at an Ontario home before local gangs would sell it and funnel money to the Mexican cartel. Most of the drugs were being sold in Pomona and Ontario, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Shawn Nelson. Dealers were selling multiple pounds a day and making up to $9,000 per pound, Nelson said. He described the arrests as “a good dent” in the Mexican cartel’s local drug network. Three suspects were in custody before the raid and seven remain at large, federal authorities said. The indictment alleges that a La Familia Michoacana associate named Jose Juan Garcia Barron oversaw the transport of the meth between Mexico and Los Angeles County. Delaney said Garcia Barron is among the suspects who have not been apprehended. The 17 arrested Thursday were expected to make their first court appearance Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Top Ten Cities for arresting Americans
The top 10 cities where Americans were arrested and the number taken into custody:
1. Tijuana: 520
2. Guadalajara: 416
3. Nuevo Laredo: 359
4. London: 274
5. Mexico City: 208
6. Toronto: 183
7. Nassau, Bahamas: 108
8. Mérida, Mexico: 99
9. Nogales, Mexico: 96
10. Hong Kong: 90
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Monday, August 27
Friday, August 17
BALI NINE RINGLEADERS ANDREW CHAN AND MYURAN SUKUMARAN ARE BOTH AWAITING EXECUTION FOR THEIR ROLE IN A 2005 DRUG BUST
. PICTURE: BINTORO LUKMAN S SUPPLIED
Speaking for the first time since he filed for clemency in May - his last hope of being saved from a firing squad - the 28-year-old conceded there are moments that he goes to a very dark place.
"Definitely, definitely, I think about what lies ahead," he told AAP today.
It's his Christian faith, he says, that helps him overcome those darkest of thoughts.
"It's at the next step," he said.
"Obviously it plays in the back of your mind but at the end of the day, the best that I can do is have a positive outlook and keep my faith up, not just in God, but in my legal team."
Chan and the eight other members of the so-called Bali Nine, some of whom were teenagers when they were caught, was convicted of drug smuggling following the 2005 attempt to courier more than 8kg of heroin from Bali to Australia.
They received sentences ranging from 20 years in the case of Renae Lawrence - the only female member of the group - to death.
Along with Myuran Sukumaran, Chan is the only other member still facing execution after Scott Rush had his death sentence commuted to life in prison last year.
Chan and Sukumaran rely on clemency from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono if they are to have their lives spared.
"The only thing that we can do is pray and ask for a second chance," Chan said.
"The toughest thing that plays on our minds is the effect on our families, it obviously affects our families and takes a toll."
He has turned his time inside Bali's notorious Kerobokan jail to helping others - taking a leading role in educating fellow prisoners and improving himself.
Chan says he's a better person now.
"Not only do you have a lot of time to reflect on yourself, you reflect on the effect of your actions on others," he said.
"Hopefully the president will see that. That we are rehabilitating ourselves."
For Sukumaran, it's family also that weighs heavily on his mind.
"I'm very stressed. It's very hard to sleep," he said from behind the bars at the entrance to his cell block.
"The only thing that is keeping me going is my family."
Sukumaran lodged his clemency application in July.
"It's our last chance," he said.
Indonesia has not executed anyone since 2008, and the timeline in terms of when a decision will be made regarding Chan and Sukumaran's clemency applications is unclear.
Until then, they will remain as two of the 114 people on death row in Indonesia.
There is also no guarantee that Dr Yudhoyono will make the decision, with sources close to the president saying it may be left to the next administration, which would come into office after elections in 2014.
Friday, August 3
- Diplomat who tried to claim immunity after smuggling £160,000 of cannabis into UK disguised smell by sprinkling it with chili powder
- Ethiopian fails in immunity bid
- Ethiopia diplomat jailed for smuggling marijuana into UK
- Ethiopian embassy official tried to claim diplomatic immunity after smuggling three suitcases of cannabis into Heathrow