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Entries in Drug Cartel (13)

Thursday
Sep202012

Zetas Drug Cartel Arranged Prison Break, Say Officials

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EAGLE PASS, Texas) -- The director and 15 other staffers of a Mexican prison on the Texas border are being held under house arrest while authorities investigate whether they helped Mexico's most violent drug cartel, the Zetas, break more than 130 inmates out of the prison during a daring daylight escape Monday.

Initial media reports said prisoners had escaped through a 21-foot tunnel equipped with wires and cables after overpowering guards at the prison in Piedras Negras, just across the U.S. border from Eagle Pass, Texas. But top officials in the Mexican state of Coahuila were always suspicious that guards had been involved in the escape, and interrogation of three recaptured escapees revealed that many prisoners had walked straight out the front gate into waiting trucks.

"[The 3 inmates] were recruited by that group [the Zetas], which is waging a war in Tamaulipas and other states of the republic," Jorge Luis Moran, public safety secretary of Coahuila, said on a Mexican television network, Forotv.

Moran told another news channel that not all the detainees had escaped via the tunnel. The prison's director, Miguel Angel Resendiz, was fired after the escape.

The Zetas were started by members of the Mexican military who went to work as security for the Gulf Cartel and then formed their own competing drug-smuggling operation, which soon became dominant in southeast and eastern Mexico. The Zetas are famous for brutality, including mass killings and beheadings.

The Zetas have been battling the Sinaloa cartel, the country's most powerful cartel, for control of Coahuila and other territory along the Texas border.

Moran said that on Monday, police responding to the prison escape were attacked by gunmen with grenades and rifles. Four of the gunmen were killed; one of the men was believed to be a Zeta attempting to prevent the police from searching for escapees.

In an emailed statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had been made aware of the escape and was in touch with Mexican officials.

"CBP is aware of the reported jail break in Northern Mexico, and out of an abundance of caution, has placed its officers and agents in the Eagle Pass, Texas area on alert," said spokesman Dennis Smith. "At this point, CBP has no reports of escapees attempting to cross the border."

"We remain in communication with our law enforcement partners in Mexico and maintain a shared interest in keeping our mutual border secure," said Smith.

In 2010, more than 150 inmates broke out of a prison in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. Forty-one guards were charged with aiding in that escape, the largest in Mexico in recent years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Cops: California Teen Mistress Set Drug Gang Honey Trap

Handout(SAN DIEGO) -- When Jorge Garcia Vasquez, 58, joined a 24 Hour Fitness gym in San Diego, an attractive 19-year-old woman took quite a liking to him, so much that she convinced him to become her personal trainer.

But he likely didn't expect the interest from the much younger woman to turn into a struggle for his life, allegedly part of a set up in a high-dollar kidnapping scheme by the young "femme fatale" and her gang-affiliated accomplices.

That's what happened to Vasquez and to two other men in 2007, the San Diego District Attorney's Office says, and the young woman, Nancy Michelle Mendoza Moreno, is standing trial for her alleged role in the elaborate "honey trap," facing up to life in prison, according a report by the Los Angeles Times. Mendoza's attorney doesn't dispute the tale the prosecutors tell but says they picked up the wrong girl and Mendoza, now 24, is the victim of a case of mistaken identity.

Originally from Tijuana, Mendoza's alleged short but lucrative criminal career began in late 2006 when she became involved with a gang in the San Diego suburbs. Called "Los Palillos," or the Toothpicks, the gang had split from the then-powerful Arellano Felix drug cartel after infighting. Los Palillos uprooted from Tijuana and set up operations across the border in California, local media reports said.

Once in San Diego County, Los Palillos reigned over a series of violent kidnappings and murders between 2004 and 2007, trafficking drugs and systematically killing rivals, according to the FBI. "Bodies turned up in cars, on jogging paths, and inside houses in quiet, residential neighborhoods," the FBI said.

Their alleged method of operation: kidnap wealthy, cartel-associated men and hold them for hefty ransoms -- knowing that many of their victims' shifty legal histories would ensure that the police were never called. Their secret weapon, according to San Diego prosecutors: the young, attractive Mendoza, who would allegedly woo the men into ready-made traps with her coy flirtations.

"She was used as a lure successfully, repeatedly," said Deputy District Attorney James Fontaine in his opening statement last month. Images of Mendoza clad in revealing lingerie have been entered into trial evidence. Not all the operations were the same, but Mendoza was allegedly influential in bringing some victims who were not easily accessible to the gang members.

In one case, Mendoza allegedly tipped off the Los Palillos kidnappers about the whereabouts of the 25-year-old son of notorious drug trafficker Jose Manuel Nunez as the two were partying together, the L.A. Times reported. In another set-up, she joined the 24 Hour Fitness Gym to get acquainted with Jorge Garcia Vasquez, 58, the relative of a well-known cartel financier. She befriended Garcia, convinced him to be her personal trainer, and "then began to reel in her prey," prosecutors said in court documents. When Mendoza and Garcia ran an errand together, the kidnappers snagged him at a traffic stop. The two captives alone reportedly brought in almost $1 million in ransom money for Los Palillos.

In the third incident -- the one that finally landed Los Palillos in the authorities' crosshairs -- prosecutors say Mendoza chatted up wealthy businessman Eduardo Gonzalez Tostado at a local Starbucks and later invited him to visit her at her aunt's home. Upon entering the house with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of cognac, he was accosted by the Los Palillos men. Gonzalez was beaten, blindfolded, handcuffed and held in a pantry for eight days for a ransom of $2 million.

But instead of receiving the $2 million, the men from Los Palillos were caught by a SWAT team after a family member of Gonzalez's managed to give the gang a suitcase with some of the money as well as a hidden tracking device, according to a report by ABC News' San Diego affiliate 10 News.

By that time, however, Moreno had long since fled the scene. Gonzalez said he recalled her asking the kidnappers, "Can I go home?" and "What car should I take?" directly following his capture.

She disappeared to Tijuana and was not found for three years, prosecutors said. But in August 2010, she was arrested by Mexican authorities based on information given by U.S. officials, who had discovered her working in a Tijuana law office.

Mendoza was extradited to the U.S. and she is now on trial for the original charges leveled at her in 2007: kidnapping for ransom with bodily injury and conspiracy to commit kidnapping for ransom. If convicted, she faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Mendoza's lawyer, Sandy Resnick, maintains that it is all a case of mistaken identity and the men had been taken in by another woman.

Two other members of Los Palillos -- the kidnappers -- are currently serving life imprisonment sentences. Five more remain at large, although authorities believe they are likely in Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The San Diego District Attorney's office declined to comment on the case and Resnick did not respond to a request for comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Did Mexican Drug Cartel Fix Horse Race Result?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The general manager of a U.S. horseracing track denied allegations Monday that the chief of Mexico's most violent drug cartel had fixed a $1 million race so his own horse would win.

According to two confidential FBI informants, Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, also known as "40," bragged that he had paid the gatekeepers at New Mexico's Ruidoso Downs $10,000 "to hold back the horses" competing against his own horse, Mr. Piloto, in the 2010 All American Futurity Race, which Mr. Piloto won.

Trevino Morales and 13 other defendants were indicted last week for allegedly laundering at least $20 million in cocaine profits through horse racing, breeding and training in the U.S. The informants' claims were part of an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant for an Oklahoma horse ranch allegedly owned by a Zetas front corporation.

Shaun Hubbard, general manager of Ruidoso Downs, adamantly denied the informants' alleged charge.

"We have looked at the videotape of the 2010 All American Futurity from every angle many times in recent days and can see no evidence of any horse being held or denied a fair start," said Hubbard in a statement to ABC News.

"We can find no evidence that there was any wrongdoing by our starting-gate crew," added Hubbard. "We also want to make it clear that we have totally cooperated with the FBI investigation and will continue to offer support for this investigation."

One of the confidential informants also alleged in the affidavit that his horses had competed against horses belonging to Omar Trevino Morales, AKA 42, in Mexico but, that 42's horses "would always win because of CI #1's knowledge that '42' would get upset at a loss and most likely kill his opponent as a result."

A third confidential informant allegedly stated that in 2007, in Monclova, Mexico, an individual named Triana had entered his own rooster in a cockfight against a rooster owned by 42. Triana's rooster won. "Approximately 15 days after the rooster fight, '42' had Triana killed because '42's' rooster had lost the fight," CI #3 allegedly said.

Miguel Angel Trevino and Omar Trevino allegedly laundered their drug profits through a horseracing operation run by a third brother, Jose, and his wife, according to the U.S. indictment handed down in Texas last week. Jose Trevino Morales, his wife and six other defendants were arrested. Miguel Angel and Omar remain at large in Mexico. The Drug Enforcement Administration has offered $5 million apiece for information leading to the capture of Miguel Angel and Omar.

The brothers, whose numeric aliases refer to their alleged rank within the Zetas at the time of the cartel's creation several years ago, are now allegedly top leaders of an organization that controls drug trafficking in the east and south of Mexico. Miguel, or "40," allegedly runs the Zetas along with "3," Heriberto Lazcano.

The Zetas began in 1999 when former members of the Mexican military signed on to work as security for the Gulf drug cartel. The Zetas went into business for themselves and are now at war with the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas are based in Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas state just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

US Warns of 'Retaliation' Against American Tourists in Mexico

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- American travelers to Mexico should beware of possible violent retaliation for this week's arrest of alleged Zetas drug cartel associates and family members inside the U.S., the U.S. State Department has warned.

Though the warning does not specify which "Transnational Criminal Organization" might engage in "anti-American" violence, on Tuesday federal authorities arrested seven alleged associates of the powerful Zetas drug cartel in New Mexico and Oklahoma for allegedly laundering millions in drug profits through breeding and racing quarterhorses in the U.S. Those arrested included Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Zetas leaders Miguel Angel and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, who were also indicted but remain at large in Mexico.

According to the indictment, the Zetas cartel steered drug money to Jose Trevino Morales and his wife to purchase, train and race quarterhorses. Horses owned by the Zetas' alleged front companies competed at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and won lucrative races, including the $1 million All American Futurity in 2010. Some of the horses had the word "cartel" in their names, such as Morning Cartel and Coronita Cartel.

The travel warning issued Tuesday, the day of the arrests and the unsealing of the indictment, urges U.S. citizens in Mexico to be on guard. "Given the history and resources of this violent TCO, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to maintain a low profile and a heightened sense of awareness."

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brother Oscar Omar, who go by the names 40 and 42, which refer to their alleged rank within the Zetas at the time of the cartel's creation several years ago, are now allegedly top leaders of an organization that controls drug trafficking in the east and south of Mexico.

The Zetas began in 1999 when former members of the Mexican military signed on to work as security for the Gulf drug cartel. The Zetas went into business for themselves and are now at war with the Gulf Cartel. They are based in Nuevo Laredo, which is in Tamaulipas state just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

The U.S. State Department issued a Travel Warning about Tamaulipas in February, and on Tuesday noted that it "continues to advise U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec162011

Chicago Bears Wide Receiver Jailed After Undercover Sting

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd is being held on federal drug charges after allegedly attempting to purchase over a pound of cocaine from an undercover agent, and is alleged to be one of the top drug dealers in the Chicago area.

Police are also reportedly in possession of a list of NFL players who were allegedly supplied with illegal drugs by Hurd.

“Sam intends to fight these charges, and we intend to defend him fully. We have complete confidence in him,” said attorney David Kenner.

According to the criminal complaint, Hurd, 26, met with an undercover agent at Morton’s restaurant in Rosemont, Ill., and told the agent that he was interested in buying five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana weekly to distribute across the Chicago area.

As the agent and Hurd dined on $300 worth of filet mignon, the wide receiver allegedly said that he and another person were already distributing approximately four kilos of cocaine weekly in Chicago, but needed a new supplier that could meet their demand.

Hurd allegedly told the agent that while his partner handled most of their drug deals, he was responsible for the “higher-end deals.”

Kathy Colvin, spokesperson for U.S. Attorney in Dallas, told ABC News that she “cannot confirm or deny” allegations that Hurd sold drugs to other NFL players, but she points out that such charges are not in the criminal complaint.

According to the charges, Hurd left the meeting with the undercover officer after he agreed to pay $25,000 for each kilo of cocaine and $450 per pound of marijuana. He said that he could pay for a kilo of cocaine after “he gets out of practice.”

He then walked out of the restaurant with the package and was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Hurd, who spent five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and signed with the Bears on July 29, was first identified as a potential drug dealer this July when an informant tipped off authorities as the NFL lockout was coming to a close.

Bears Coach Lovie Smith said he was disappointed by the arrest, and called it a “total surprise.” He said that Hurd is still a member of the team for now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

Jailed US Border Agent's Scary Inside Look at Drug Cartels

File photo. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- A corrupt U.S. border agent sitting in a federal prison cell is offering a chilling view of the Mexican drug cartels whose drug shipments he protected for years in return for hefty bribes.

He is so terrified of the cartel's famous vicious streak that he fears for his own life -- and the lives of his family -- if he is identified as speaking to ABC News. He depicts a dangerously paranoid crime organization that has spies throughout U.S. law enforcement.

To illustrate the cartel's pervasive reach, he said he got his introduction to them through an American cop. From there the former border patrol agent was convicted of shepherding cartel vehicles loaded with drugs safely over the border. Prosecutors say he profited handsomely, being paid $4,000 per car and $6,000 to escort vans -- in addition to a $10,000 retainer fee.

According to the indictment, the agent's run came to an end after he unknowingly offered his services to other drug dealers -- who were undercover FBI agents. In the sting, the agent assisted the undercover agents in smuggling a huge shipment of cocaine into the U.S. He largely concedes the facts of the case against him, but insists there is more to his story.

"First and foremost, I was a USBP agent. But when the threat is real and it's on your own family ... it turns into a whole new ball game," he said in a series of emails in which he answered questions put to him by ABC News.

"Regardless of my crime, I served my country and my community to the best of my abilities (above and beyond) ... no one will ever take that away from me," he wrote.

The disgraced agent said the cartel was more powerful than the U.S. government and overrode his oath as a law enforcement officer.

"In my opinion they have unlimited power … they have informants of all kinds, good and bad," he said. "They have informants in the city level, county level and, from what they claim, federal."

"At the time I was just thinking of a possible life and death situation and DEATH had better odds than I had ... Until you are faced with a situation like mine ... no one can really say what they could have done."

He said he first reached out to the cartels because it was a form of security. If he helped the cartels, he could keep his drug-dealing brothers in Mexico safe.

At a softball game, the police officer introduced him to a man who had connections in the part of Mexico where his brothers' lives were being threatened and the guard believed they might be able to help his brothers if he worked with them. He did not know, however, that once he got involved with this dangerous world, it would be impossible to get out.

He also did not identify which of the Mexican drug cartels he dealt with.

In a world where suspicion could be fatal, the former guard said he had to accept the bribes in order to curb the cartel's paranoia.

"The money was not something I could say no to...because I had to make them believe that I was doing all I could to be on their good side," he wrote.

He communicated with the drug trafficking organizations by radio and sometimes in person, which he said was "scary and stressful."

Trusting no one, he believed he was under constant surveillance and described a situation where he met a woman at a safe house. The meeting came right after he and other officers had been warned that the cartels were using women to try to get agents into Mexico in order to kill them.

When the first person he met at a safe house was a woman, he was terrified. The cartel told him the woman was there for his "personal enjoyment," but he suspected the real purposed was to get him naked so that they could see that he was not wired.

He can't stop thinking about what he has done and can't stop worrying about the cartel, even behind bars. And he isn't just afraid for himself.

"I worry about my family because they are living in border towns and in Mexico," he said. "I fear for their lives because I believe that those people are just waiting for me to say the wrong thing about them or someone in particular."

The Mexican drug cartel industry has an estimated worth of more than $15 billion and continues to grow. Violence has escalated in the industry and battles involving automatic weapons and grenades are common. Over 34,000 people have been killed in Mexican drug wars over the past four years.

In a disturbing trend, new figures show 122 current or former U.S. federal agents and employees of the Customs and Border Protection agency have been arrested or indicted for corruption since October 2004. It's not just for money, some agents are accepting payment from the cartels in the form of sexual favors.

Just last week, a police officer, a state trooper and three TSA officers in Florida and Connecticut were among 20 arrested for allegedly running an interstate drug ring.

Even though the agent describes prison life as "a terrible experience," he believes he did the best he could for the circumstances he was in.

"I knew that what I was doing was wrong. But, at the time, I thought I had no other options," he said. "It's easy to find an answer right now, but back then...it was a nightmare."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Mexican Drug Cartels Trying to Expand Marijuana Shipments to US

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An investigation by ABC's Nightline has discovered that Mexican cartels have recently been trying to expand marijuana shipments into the United States by the tens of thousands.

Nightline was granted exclusive and unprecedented access to U.S. DEA agents and Customs and Border Protection officers who interdict, store and destroy tons of marijuana.  The investigation takes a look at the scale and reach of the Mexican cartels who are fueled by 25.8 million American marijuana users.

Government investigators estimate that the cartels have boosted their production by a whopping 59 percent since 2003, leading them to conclude that the Mexican organizations "represent the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States," an official said.  Officials estimate that the drug cartels' profits are between $18 and $39 billion annually.

According to Mexican and U.S. officials (who requested that their names and ranks not be used), marijuana smuggling has contributed to 35,000 deaths along the border in the past five years.

These discoveries come on the heels of a bill being introduced in the House by Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) to remove the federal roadblock to state marijuana reform.

Nightline was present in the midst of a two-week stretch of U.S. officials' destroying more than $100 million worth of marijuana at two top-secret facilities in an undisclosed location in the American Southwest.

"Marijuana is the number one cash crop for the cartels in Mexico," said assistant special DEA agent Mel Rodriguez.  "The moneys, the proceeds from the sale of the marijuana ultimately go to finance other illegal activities for the cartel, such as [the] purchase of weapons and additional resources."

"Additional resources" include funding armies of criminals who have fought the U.S. and Mexican governments.

U.S. officials use a variety of tools to find contraband, including an army of agents, Border Patrol's drug-sniffing dogs, mobile X-ray machines, even special cameras to slide down gas tanks to hunt for drugs.

Drug lords use every tactic to transport drugs, cash and guns: submarines, tunnels, ultra-light planes.  They also still use men on foot -- so-called "mules."

After U.S. agents seize the drugs, they are moved into a secret facility -- one of the most restricted government rooms in the nation that, until now, no television journalist had ever been allowed in before.   ABC's Nightline crew had to sign papers just to walk from room to room, and no employee working there could be identified in our report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Three Arizona Cops Arrested for Human, Drug Smuggling

John Moore/Getty Images(MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz.) -- Three cops under the command of "America's toughest sheriff," including a deputy in the human smuggling unit, have been arrested in Arizona and charged with trafficking in humans and drugs.

Deputy Alfredo Navarrette and two female prison guards were arrested following a year-long sting that netted nine other people in a suspected criminal ring.

"Unfortunately we had a deputy and two officers that became involved in an international drug and illegal immigration operation," Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial head of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, told ABCNews.com.

Arpaio bills himself as "America's toughest sheriff" for his no-nonsense handling of inmates and for his zero tolerance of illegal immigrants.

Navarrette, 37, who was allegedly caught with two illegal immigrants and $200,000 worth of heroin in his home at the time of his arrest, is accused of feeding a drug ring confidential police information and also of operating a separate human smuggling ring.

One of the prison guards, Marcella Hernandez, is eight months pregnant with the child of Francisco Arce-Torre, the heroin ring's alleged "kingpin" and a member of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, said Arpaio.

Both Hernandez, 28, and Navarrette had received training and been certified by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

At the time of Hernandez's arrest, Arpaio said, she reporting for duty and was carrying $16,000 in her purse.

All three suspects -- Navarrette, Hernandez and corrections officer Sylvia Najera -- were booked on felony trafficking charges.

Hernandez was charged with transporting drugs and money laundering and was ordered held on $2 million bond.

Najera was charged with money laundering and controlling a criminal enterprise, but bail was not immediately set.

None of the arrested officers have entered pleas or obtained legal counsel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr012011

DHS Secretary: Talk of Spillover Violence Hurts Local Economies

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Friday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that stories and claims about spillover violence from Mexico pouring into the United States are inaccurate and that continued comments about the Mexican Drug war are hurting the local economies in border regions. Napolitano said that these claims are often drummed up to score “political points.”
 
Speaking at an event hosted by the progressive think tank NDN Napolitano said, “It is simply inaccurate to state, and too many have, that the border with Mexico is overrun or out of control. This statement I think sometimes is made to score political points. You know, it’s wrong. It’s just plain wrong. Continuing to make these assertions in the face of everything that is happening and everything that has been done not only has negative consequences for our own border communities but it also disrespects the efforts of the law enforcement men and women on that border.”
 
“Damaging misinformation about border communities has been repeated so often it's almost become a given in American life.” Napolitano said,  “Everybody's saying the border's out of control, it doesn’t work, it's not safe , it's not secure. And that means for them they can’t recruit business there, it means that colleges can't recruit students there, you name it. They have after-effect after after-effect after after-effect."

The facts in Mexico cannot be ignored that over 35,000 people in Mexico have been killed as a result of the ongoing warfare between the cartels and Mexico’s military and police in the past five years. The cartels have become increasingly violent as they fight over territory, and as young lieutenants rise among the cartels, they resort to more and more violent tactics.
 
While the situation is dire in Mexico, whose tactics are similar to those used in Iraq and Afghanistan with car bombs and the use of IEDs, a review of available FBI statistics between 2008 and 2009 shows declines of murders in U.S. border cities. In San Diego, murders dropped from 55 killed in 2008 to 41 deaths in 2009. In Tucson, murders dropped from 65 killed in 2008 to 35 murders in 2009. And in El Paso, murders dropped from 17 murders in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and five murders last year in 2010. Murders have spiked this year in El Paso with 11 murders so far, but they appear to be random acts of violence according to a spokesman with the Police Department there.

Meanwhile, across the border in Ciudad Juárez Mexican police deal with hundreds of murders every month as the cartels fight over ways to get their drugs into the United States.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

Hundreds of Mexican Drug Gang Members Caught in Crackdown

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A sweeping federal takedown Tuesday confirms that Mexican drug cartels have penetrated the United States and have affiliated drug gangs on the streets of hundreds of American cities, federal officials said.

A total of 678 alleged gang members from 168 cities were arrested by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) task force targeting gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations.

More than 46 percent of those arrested were affiliated with 13 different Mexican drug trafficking organizations, ICE officials said. Of the 678 arrested, 447 were charged with criminal offenses and 421 were foreign nationals.

The operation, Project Southern Tempest, was conducted from December 2010 through the end of February. In addition to the arrests, the operation also seized 86 firearms, large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, and more than $70,000 in cash, according to ICE officials.

"These transnational gangs are a direct threat to our safety," ICE Director John Morton said at an afternoon news conference Tuesday. "We have to go after them hammer and tong."

Morton said transnational gangs are not only working the drug trade, but are frequently working in human smuggling, weapons smuggling and other crimes with a nexus to the border.

Project Southern Tempest is the latest in a series of federal task force operations targeting drug gangs. The operations include local police in dozens of U.S. cities, including Atlanta.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







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