FEBRUARY 26, 2009
Days after the State Department warned American travelers about unprecedented violence in Mexico, federal authorities announced dozens of arrests involving a huge Mexican drug trafficking organization that operates on both sides of the border.
More than 50 people in California, Minnesota and Maryland were arrested this week as part of a lengthy operation targeting one of Mexico’s most sophisticated narcotics enterprises, the Sinaloa Cartel. So far, the operation has led to the arrest of 751 people and the seizure of more than 23 tons of drugs, nearly $60 million in cash and millions more in assets such as vehicles, aircrafts, boats and weapons.
Federal authorities say the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for bringing multi-ton quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States through an enterprise of well-coordinated distribution cells. Indictments associated with the Sinaloa Cartel have so far been filed in 11 U.S. judicial districts, including New York, Minnesota, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio.
Once limited to boundaries south of the U.S. border, Mexican drug-cartel violence—the sort never before seen in the U.S.—has spread like a lethal cancer into numerous American cities. Earlier this month, federal authorities announced that Phoenix had the nation’s highest rate of ransom kidnappings, virtually all of them connected to Mexican drug enterprises.
Days after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was murdered by Mexican smugglers last year, the Department of Homeland Security reported that agents are regularly under siege by heavily armed drug runners and that violence along the border will definitely increase in the years to come.
In this week’s advisory warning U.S. citizens about the risks of traveling to Mexico, the State Department compares routine confrontations between Mexican army and drug smugglers to small-unit combat. It also says that dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped across Mexico in recent years and others injured or killed in violent attacks.
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