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DOJ: Hundreds arrested in operation targeting Mexican drug cartel

March 11 (UPI) -- Federal authorities said Wednesday a large-scale operation targeting a Mexican drug cartel the Justice Department says is one of the most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world has resulted in hundreds of arrests and the confiscation of millions of dollars and tons of drugs.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday the results of the first phase of Project Python -- a multilateral interagency operation targeting Mexico's Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG.

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Launched Sept. 1, the first phase of Project Python culminated Wednesday morning when federal agents conducted more than 100 search warrants, resulting in the arrests of more than 250 people associated with the gang and the seizure of 600 kilograms of drugs and more than $1.7 million in money and assets, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said during a press conference.

"Project Python is the single largest strike against CJNG to date, but it is only the beginning of our efforts to destroy this dangerous criminal organization," Dhillon said.

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In total, the six-month investigation resulted in more than 700 arrests, the seizure of 20,000 kilograms of drugs, including 15,000 kilograms of methamphetamine, and the confiscation of $22 million in money and assets nationwide, he said.

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Among those arrested during the operation was Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, the son of "El Mencho" Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, the leader of CJNG.

Considered the organization's second-in-command, Oseguera Gonzalez, who is known as "Menchito," was extradited from Mexico to the United States on charges of drug trafficking and firearm use last month, and two weeks ago, Jessica Johanna Oseguera Gonzalez, El Mencho's daughter, was arrested in the United States on financial-related charges in connection to violating the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation, the Justice Department said.

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"These arrests punctuate the many other arrests of many mid- and high-level CJNG members since Project python began," Dhillon said.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced a superseding indictment charging El Mencho with leading the cartel. The DEA previously announced a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and the Treasury Department has blacklisted him as a "specially designated narcotics trafficker."

The Justice Department said CJNG runs "major" methamphetamine labs in Mexico where it continues to increase its footprint with primary drug distribution hubs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. The cartel is among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world and is responsible for "a significant proportion of drugs entering the United States," the department said.

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"Today, DEA has disrupted CJNG's operations and there is more to come as DEA continues its relentless attack on this remorseless criminal organization," Dhillon said in a statement.

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