2,000 arrested in raids on drug cartel

July 22, 2011 at 7:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- Federal authorities have arrested almost 2,000 suspects in an crackdown on a violent Mexican drug cartel blamed for most methamphetamine imports.

"La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border," Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said in announcing the raids, called Project Delirium, in Washington, the Houston Chronicle reported.

"The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization," she said.

Law enforcement officers, including DEA, FBI and immigration agents, arrested 1,985 people and confiscated $62 million in cash, 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets over 20 months, the DEA said. The raids took place in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

At least 44 of the arrests were in and around Austin, Texas.

"You can never get rid of them altogether, but you can dilute them to make them ineffective," Greg Thrash, head of the local DEA office, told Austin American-Statesman.

The investigation built on information from Operation Coronado, a 2009 assault on La Familia that yielded at least 1,186 arrests in 35 cities, the Department of Justice said.

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