Dozens Arrested in Takedown of Southern California Drug Ring Linked to Sinaloa Cartel

Dozens Arrested in Takedown of Southern California Drug Ring Linked to Sinaloa Cartel

Drugs and weapons seized by law enforcement in an operation that extended from the Mexico border to Salem, Ore. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

6/7/2024

Updated: 6/9/2024

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A U.S. Border Patrol agent was among dozens arrested in Southern California during a takedown of a massive drug trafficking operation run by the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, authorities announced June 5.
Officers arrested 36 suspects June 5 and are searching for 11 more linked to the cartel, considered the most powerful crime syndicate in Mexico. In total, 25 search warrants have been executed in Imperial County; San Diego; Fresno; Los Angeles; Phoenix; and Salem, Ore.
The suspects are charged with supplying millions of doses of fentanyl and other narcotics in the Southern California region near San Diego.
More than 400 law enforcement officers coordinated the arrests after a multi-year investigation.
The Department of Justice indictment accuses the alleged cartel-linked defendants of drug trafficking, money laundering, and gun-related offenses.
During the investigation, authorities confiscated more than 4 kilograms of fentanyl, which amounts to about 2 million potentially fatal doses.
They also seized more than 324 kilograms—over 714 pounds—of methamphetamine, significant quantities of cocaine and heroin, and 52 firearms, including handguns and rifles.
Among those arrested was Border Patrol agent Alexander Grindley, for alleged methamphetamine trafficking.
Two AR-style rifles, a pistol, magazines, and Russian-made ammunition. All were exchanged for drugs, prosecutors said. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Two AR-style rifles, a pistol, magazines, and Russian-made ammunition. All were exchanged for drugs, prosecutors said. (U.S. Department of Justice)

The defendants were operating just outside of San Diego in Imperial Valley—including the cities of Brawley, El Centro, Westmoreland, Imperial, Calexico, Niland, Holtville, Calipatria—and in Mexicali, Mexico, according to the DOJ.
According to the indictments and search warrants describing operation details, law enforcement agents seized two pounds of methamphetamine in June 2021 and a cache of guns and ammunition, including some made in Russia.
Wiretaps used during the investigation allegedly revealed that one of the defendants supplied other members of the drug trafficking ring with ghost guns in exchange for methamphetamine.
Assault rifles confiscated by authorities were destined for the cartel’s source of supply in Mexico, according to the DOJ.
Authorities involved in the drug sting say the supply and availability of fentanyl in the Imperial Valley region has increased substantially enough to affect the price of pills. The DOJ reported in June 2021, one fentanyl pill cost between $1.65 to $1.76. In May—nearly three years later—the pills were being sold for just 45 cents.
“With this takedown, the Justice Department has dealt yet another blow to the Sinaloa Cartel and its associates,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a statement Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said the drug trafficking network targeted in the takedown was responsible for supplying dealers in communities across the region.
“If you’re an addict and your dealer was arrested today, seek treatment,” she said in a statement. “And if you’re a dealer but your supplier was arrested today, look out—we are coming for you next.”
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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