On Thursday August 15, 57 members of an alleged Mexico – Los Angeles drug trafficking ring were indicted by federal prosecutors. Authorities claim various illegal drugs were smuggled from Mexico into LA including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Eighteen of the alleged traffickers were arrested by DEA agents. According to a news article at the Los Angeles Times, the drugs were being smuggled into California in PVC pipe and concealed compartments.
An investigation into the drug smuggling operation began in early 2011. Since that time, authorities have seized 20 kilos of brown heroin, 30 kilograms of cocaine, 16 kilograms of white heroin, and over 2,400 lbs. of methamphetamine. News reports also claim 18 firearms and over $1.2 million in cash have been recovered in connection with the alleged narcotics transactions.
Mexico-based Miguel Angel Molinero-Castro was the initial focus of the investigation, believed to have stashed significant quantities of controlled substances in PVC pipe which were further hidden inside the axles of tractor-trailer rigs. These shipments were received at South Gate and Wilmington truck yards. Authorities claim the distribution network also encompassed some suburban homes in Sylmar and Sun Valley.
According to federal indictments made public on August 15, members of the drug ring sought to smuggle substantial quantities of illegal drugs across the border from Mexico into San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties. During this time, suspects’ coded telephone conversations were being tracked by federal agents.
Several members of the drug trafficking ring have been charged in one indictment with maintaining drug-involved premises, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, distribution of methamphetamine, and possession to distribute controlled substances. A second indictment unveiled earlier in the month contains allegations by prosecutors that the network also distributed heroin which was concealed in PVC pipes and further hidden under lumber being transported by truck.
Smuggling illicit drugs and narcotics across the border from Mexico into the U.S. has long been a problem. Not only have drugs been smuggled in the manner described above, an illegal cross-border tunnel which runs underground was discovered last year in Tijuana, Mexico. The lit, ventilated tunnel is 220 yards long, and begins underneath a bathroom sink in a Tijuana warehouse. Just this year, Mexicali is where authorities confiscated an improvised cannon which was used to “fire” marijuana packets into California by hurling them across a border fence.
Penalties for drug trafficking are harsh, and leave those convicted facing life-changing consequences. If you have been accused of a drug offense, consult with a competent and aggressive Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer regardless of minor or serious the offense seems. It is critical to obtain effective legal counsel in order to protect your legal rights, freedom, and future.