More than 600 people have been arrested as part of a joint Justice Department-Drug Enforcement Administration investigation targeting a major Mexican drug cartel.
A six-month operation dubbed Project Python targeted the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, according to a Justice Department news release on Wednesday.
More than 600 arrests were made, the release said.
Further, 350 people were indicted and what the Justice Department called “significant seizures” were made of money and drugs.
“Project Python marks the most comprehensive action to date in the Department of Justice’s campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy CJNG,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the DOJ’s Criminal Division said.
“When President Trump signed an Executive Order prioritizing the dismantlement of transnational criminal organizations, the Department of Justice answered the call and took direct aim at CJNG,” he added. “We deemed CJNG one of the highest-priority transnational organized crime threats we face. And with Project Python, we are delivering results in the face of that threat for the American people.”
President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13773 called upon justice system partners “to identify, interdict, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations,” according to the DOJ news release.
“Project Python is the single largest strike by U.S. authorities against CJNG, and this is just the beginning,” DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said.
“This strategic and coordinated project exemplifies DEA’s mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug trafficking organizations around the world and bring their leaders to justice. Today, DEA has disrupted CJNG’s operations, and there is more to come as DEA continues its relentless attack on this remorseless criminal organization,” he added.
The Justice Department described the cartel as “one of the fastest growing transnational criminal organizations in Mexico” and “among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world.”
One goal of Project Python was to “disrupt CJNG’s ability to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs throughout the United States by attacking the group at all levels. “
Benczkowski said information gleaned through Project Python will be used to “identify and map out the cartel’s logistical nodes and pathways” to further disrupt the cartel’s network, according to The Washington Post.
The Justice Department also announced it was stepping up its efforts to capture Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, known as “El Mencho,” who is the leader of CJNG.
Last month, his son, who the Justice Department labeled as second in command of the cartel, was extradited from Mexico to the U.S., while his daughter was recently arrested in America.
The State Department has put out a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of “El Mencho.”
A Justice Department indictment claims that CJNG transports illegal drugs into Mexico from Colombia and other South American countries and brings them into the United States in partnership with another criminal group known as Los Cuinis.
In issuing Executive Order 13773 in February 2017, Trump said winning the battle against transnational drug gangs is vital for America.
“Transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including transnational drug cartels, have spread throughout the Nation, threatening the safety of the United States and its citizens,” the order read. “These organizations derive revenue through widespread illegal conduct, including acts of violence and abuse that exhibit a wanton disregard for human life. They, for example, have been known to commit brutal murders, rapes, and other barbaric acts.”
“These groups are drivers of crime, corruption, violence, and misery,” it added. “In particular, the trafficking by cartels of controlled substances has triggered a resurgence in deadly drug abuse and a corresponding rise in violent crime related to drugs.”
“Likewise, the trafficking and smuggling of human beings by transnational criminal groups risks creating a humanitarian crisis. These crimes, along with many others, are enriching and empowering these organizations to the detriment of the American people,” Trump said in the order.
CJNG is active in cities including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta, according to The Hill.
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