Here is the bulk of today's DEA press release, which can be read HERE in its entirety:
DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart joined Attorney General Eric Holder and other federal officials today to announce the results of "Project Coronado", a 44-month multi-agency law enforcement investigation which targeted the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson also participated in the announcement.
Yesterday and today, 303 individuals in 19 states were arrested in a series of takedowns through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement. More than 3,000 agents and officers operated across the United States to make the arrests during the two-day takedown. 62 kilograms of cocaine, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons, 109 vehicles, 2 clandestine drug labs were also seized in the past two days.
“Project Coronado, our massive assault on the La Familia Cartel, is part of our continued fight against all of the powerful Mexico-based drug cartels,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “This organization, the newest of Mexican cartels, is directly responsible for a vast majority of the methamphetamine pouring into our country across our Southwest Border, and has had a hand in fueling the cycle of violence that is wracking Mexico today. DEA, along with our U.S. and Mexican partners, are committed to strategically attacking the international and domestic drug trade with every tool at our disposal, and defeating those that thrive on the suffering of others.”
The La Familia cartel is a violent drug trafficking cartel based in the state of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico. According to court documents, La Familia controls drug manufacturing and distribution in and around Michoacan, including the importation of vast quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States. La Familia is philosophically opposed to the sale of methamphetamine to Mexicans, and instead supports its export to the United States for consumption by Americans. La Familia is a heavily armed cartel that has utilized violence to support its narcotics trafficking business including murders, kidnappings and assaults. According to one indictment unsealed in New York, associates of La Familia based in the United States have allegedly acquired military-grade weapons, including assault weapons and ammunition, and have arranged for them to be smuggled back into Mexico for use by La Familia. Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States; money laundering; and other violations of federal law. Numerous defendants face forfeiture allegations as well.
"This unprecedented, coordinated U.S. law enforcement action - the largest ever undertaken against a Mexican drug cartel - has dealt a significant blow to La Familia’s supply chain of illegal drugs, weapons, and cash flowing between Mexico and the United States,” said Attorney General Holder. “We will not allow these cartels to operate unfettered in our country, and with the increases in cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities in recent years, we are taking the fight to our adversaries. We will continue to stand strong with our partners in Mexico as we work to disrupt and dismantle cartel operations on both sides of the border.”
Arrests were made or charges were unsealed related to Project Coronado in the following districts: Central District of California, Southern District of California, District of Colorado, Northern District of Georgia, District of Massachusetts, District of Minnesota, Southern District of Mississippi, Eastern District of Missouri, Northern District of Oklahoma, Southern District of New York, Northern District of New York, Middle District of North Carolina, District of South Carolina, Middle District of Tennessee, Eastern District of Texas, Northern District of Texas, and the Western District of Washington. There were also arrests by state authorities in California, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia.
Analysis: Two words - AWE. SOME. By all accounts and measures, this two-day raid was a really big deal. And not so much because of the "stuff" they rounded up. If you take a hard look at the amounts of drugs and weapons they seized, we're talking small potatoes for the number of agents, locations, and raids involved.
It's the number of PEOPLE associated with La Familia that were arrested. THAT's the real treasure, in my opinion. Out of 303 people, there are probably quite a few who can be convinced to provide actionable intelligence to law enforcement authorities regarding some level of DTO operations on both sides of the border. That information could lead to dozens more arrests and seizures in the next several months, so hopefully, this is just the beginning.
Kudos and a big thank you to all agencies involved!