By Jim Kouri
The largest police dragnet against a transnational organized crime gang ever in the United States resulted in close to 2,000 arrests, and the seizure of upwards of $70 million in U.S. currency, 2,775 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,800 kilograms of cocaine, 1,000 pounds of heroin, and more than seven tons of marijuana, as well $3.8 million in other assets, according to a report obtained by the Law Enforcement Examiner from the National Association of Chiefs of Police yesterday.
Over 70 of these arrests took place in Januray, February and March 2012, and over 200 were arrested since June 1, 2011, the report states.
“Operation Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” a narcotics enforcement officer told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
Operation Delirium is the result of police intelligence gathered during the course of a previous effort targeting La Familia, known as Operation Coronado, which was concluded in 2009.
As part of Delirium, arrests were made or charges were filed in numerous U.S.districts: the Central, Eastern and Southern Districts of California; the District of Columbia; the Northern District of Georgia, the District of Kansas; the Eastern District of Michigan; the Eastern District of Missouri; the District of New Mexico; the Eastern and Western Districts of North Carolina; the Northern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas, and others.
On June 21, 2011, Mexican law enforcement officers arrested La Familia leader and Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT) Jose de Jesus Mendez-Vargas, aka “El Chango” or “The Monkey,” based on Mexican charges, according to the Examiner drug enforcement source.
Charges filed against suspects include 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 proceedings as well.
More than 300 federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Operation Delirium through Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces in several states, said the drug enforcement source .
“Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border,” the drug enforcement officer — who needs to maintain anonymity — told the Examiner in a telephone interview on Monday.