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Alleged Iraqi drug ring broken in Calif.

Aug. 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Sixty suspected members of an Iraqi drug-trafficking organization were arrested in California, with authorities seizing cash, drugs and guns.

The arrests in El Cajon pulled in nearly 2 tons of marijuana and $630,000 in cash, along with explosives and high-powered weapons, law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times Thursday.

The suspects operated out of a social club that allegedly had links to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel and an Iraqi organized crime syndicate in Detroit, investigators said.

The social club was a "hub of criminal activity conducted by Iraqi organized crime," said El Cajon Police Chief Pat Sprecco.

The Sinaloa Cartel, a powerful crime organization, provided the El Cajon traffickers with the marijuana, which was sold in Detroit for three times the purchase price, said Drug Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler.

"That's a typical drug-trafficking pattern," Zeidler told the Times.

The arrests followed a months-long investigation by local, state and federal officials. Investigators said the club has also been the center of a variety of other illegal activities, including car theft and gun smuggling.

The suspects caught in the crackdown, called "Operation Shadowbox," face a variety of charges, including conspiracy, distribution of narcotics and possession and distribution of automatic weapons.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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