Dozens of individuals allegedly linked to the most powerful cartel in Mexico were arrested and charged by federal agents in California and elsewhere in the western United States, the Department of Justice announced this week

The DOJ said that 14 “indictments were unsealed [on Wednesday] charging 47 alleged members of an Imperial Valley, California-based, Sinaloa Cartel-linked fentanyl-and-methamphetamine distribution network with drug trafficking, firearms, and money laundering offenses.”

The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the biggest crime syndicates in the world, and has increasingly been the focus of law enforcement in the U.S. It is perhaps best known as the cartel that had long been run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is currently serving a lifetime sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorao.

Describing it as a “coordinated takedown” executed on Wednesday morning, the Justice Department said that “more than 400 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials arrested 36 defendants and executed 25 search warrants in Imperial County; San Diego; Fresno, California; Los Angeles; Phoenix; and Salem, Oregon.” The agency said that, as of Wednesday afternoon, the search remained ongoing for 11 fugitives.

Court records show that, in June of 2021, “agents seized two pounds of methamphetamine and a cache of ghost guns and ammunition, including: 15 lower receivers, three upper receivers, multiple barrels and stocks, 18 magazines, 40 Luger 9mm rounds, and approximately 400 rounds of .223 Red Army ammunition, which are made in Russia,” the Justice Department said in the announcement on Wednesday.“

None of the firearms or firearm parts had any identifying serial numbers or markings. They were all ghost guns. Wiretap intercepts showed that defendant Cory Gershen supplied other members of the organization with ghost guns in exchange for methamphetamine. The investigation also revealed the assault rifles (depicted below) were destined for the organization’s source of supply in Mexico,” the announcement said.

On that same day in June of 2021, “agents seized additional ghost guns, ammunition, and methamphetamine from another member of the same drug trafficking organization,” according to the Justice Department, which added that “agents seized two AR-style ghost guns and a Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun, and additional Russian rifle ammunition from defendant Guadalupe Molina-Flores, one of the alleged members of the trafficking organization.” 

“According to a search warrant, after seizing the firearms, agents searched Molina-Flores’ residence and found 309.4 grams (0.68 pounds) of methamphetamine,” Wednesday’s announcement said.

The DOJ also noted that its investigation “revealed that the price per fentanyl pill has plummeted.” 

“For example, in June 2021, targets of the investigation were obtaining fentanyl pills in Imperial Valley at approximately $1.65 to $1.75 per pill. By December 2021, the prices being discussed had dropped to approximately $1.25 per pill. By May, the same pills were being sold at only 45 cents per pill — less than one-third of the price three years earlier. The precipitous drop in price reflects the increased supply and availability of fentanyl being smuggled into the United States and the close ties between targets of this investigation and their Sinaloa Cartel supplier of fentanyl pills,” the announcement said.

More from the DOJ’s announcement:

“Including seizures today and throughout the long-term investigation, authorities have confiscated more than four kilograms of fentanyl, which amounts to about two million potentially fatal doses; more than 324 kilograms (over 714 pounds) of methamphetamine; significant quantities of cocaine and heroin; and 52 firearms, including handguns and rifles. The investigation also resulted in the arrest of Alexander Grindley for alleged methamphetamine trafficking while employed as a U.S. Border Patrol agent and multiple spin-off investigations in this district and others. Crimes charged in the indictments include drug trafficking, money laundering, and gun-related offenses. Court documents indicated the defendants were operating throughout the Imperial Valley — in Brawley, El Centro, Westmoreland, Imperial, Calexico, Niland, Holtville, Calipatria — and in Mexicali, Mexico.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the takedown means the Justice Department has “dealt yet another blow to the Sinaloa Cartel and its associates.”

“I am grateful to the more than 400 law enforcement officers whose work in this operation resulted in dozens of arrests, charges against 47 defendants, and the seizure of firearms, meth, cocaine, heroin, and two million potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. We will continue to be relentless in our fight to protect American communities from the cartels,” Garland said in a statement on Wednesday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said that his department “and our federal, state, and local partners are unrelenting in our work to keep deadly fentanyl off our streets and bring those who traffic in it to justice.” 

“The indictments unsealed today are the direct result of our multipronged and coordinated law enforcement approach — one that utilizes all of our government’s resources and capabilities. Together, we are preventing fentanyl and other deadly drugs from being produced, distributed, or consumed, and saving countless lives,” Mayorkas said.

The post Feds Charge 47 Linked to Sinaloa Cartel first appeared on High Times.