Mexican drug cartel operating in California busted, 47 charged

Nearly four dozen alleged members of a California-based drug ring linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico have been charged with multiple offenses. 

On June 5, more than 400 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials arrested 36 defendants and executed 25 search warrants in Imperial County, San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles; Phoenix, and Salem, Oregon. 

Eleven fugitives are still outstanding. 

During the investigation, authorities seized more than four kilograms of fentanyl, which amounts to about two million potential fatal doses; more than 714 pounds of methamphetamine, significant quantities of cocaine and heroin, and 52 firearms, including handguns and rifles.

Photo credit Department of Justice 

Several ghost guns and ammunition, some of which were made in Russia, were also seized. 

According to the Department of Justice, a US Border Patrol agent, Alexander Grindley, was arrested for alleged methamphetamine trafficking.

Crimes charged in the indictments include drug trafficking, money laundering, and gun-related offenses. Court documents indicated the defendants were operating throughout the Imperial Valley — in Brawley, El Centro, Westmoreland, Imperial, Calexico, Niland, Holtville, Calipatria — and in Mexicali, Mexico.

Photo credit Department of Justice 

"With this takedown, the Justice Department has dealt yet another blow to the Sinaloa Cartel and its associates," said Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

According to the indictments, the defendants belonged to various trafficking organizations.

"This investigation tore apart a drug trafficking network responsible for supplying dealers in communities across the region," said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath for the Southern District of California. "But there is still much work to be done. If you’re a parent and today’s price of fentanyl terrifies you, talk to your kids about the dangers of drug use. If you’re an addict and your dealer was arrested today, seek treatment. And if you’re a dealer but your supplier was arrested today, look out – we are coming for you next."

According to the DOJ, their investigation revealed that the price per fentanyl pill plummeted. They say this is due to the increased supply and availability of pills being smuggled into the US.

In June 2021, investigators were buying fentanyl pills in Imperial Valley at approximately $1.65 to $1.75 per pill. By December 2021, the price dropped to approximately $1.25 per pill. By May, the same pills were being sold at only 45 cents per pill.