Oct 22, 2009 12:58 PM by MSNBC

303 arrested across U.S. in cartel drug raids

Calling it the largest single strike at a Mexican drug cartel operating in the United States, Obama administration officials on Thursday said authorities had arrested 303 drug suspects over the last two days.

The arrests are aimed at the U.S. operations of the La Familia cartel.

"This organization, the newest of Mexican cartels, is directly responsible for a vast majority of the methamphetamine pouring into our country across our Southwest border, and has had a hand in fueling the cycle of violence that is wracking Mexico today," said DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart.

More than 3,000 federal agents and police officers carried out the arrests across the country on Wednesday and Thursday. The raids were part of Project Coronado, an anti-drug operation that has netted nearly 1,200 arrests over almost four years.


Oct. 22: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces the latest arrests targeting the La Familia drug cartel.
NBC News

In a statement, the Justice Department said that "62 kilograms of cocaine, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons, 109 vehicles, 2 clandestine drug labs were also seized in the past two days."

La Familia, which is based in the state of Michoacan in southwestern Mexico, claims it opposes the sale of meth to Mexicans, but supports its consumption by Americans.

The officials said states where arrests were made or charges filed include California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington state.

In an earlier legal assault on La Familia, a New York grand jury indicted an alleged cartel leader, Servando Gomez-Martinez. He is linked to one of the more brazen acts of cartel violence in Mexico.

In July, after a dozen Mexican law enforcement officers were found murdered, officials say Gomez-Martinez publicly announced his membership in La Familia and said the cartel was locked in a battle with Mexican police.




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