It’s one of the largest drug busts in recent memory: over 550 pounds of weed seized and 75 people charged. Authorities say they were all involved in a multi-year, international money laundering conspiracy, in which tens of millions of dollars were laundered from cities across the U.S. to the Mexican cartel.
According to federal prosecutors, law enforcement seized over $6 million in cash, 209,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 138 pounds of heroin and 22 pounds of fentanyl.
Additionally, there were 202 pounds of cocaine, 554 pounds of marijuana and 20 firearms in the massive money-laundering scheme.
According to U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman, most of those arrested hailed from San Diego, California, with the rest scattered across cities in the U.S. As reported by FOX, 21 of the 75 are currently behind bars.
“40 defendants were charged here in San Diego,” said Braverman. “35 individuals were charged in other districts around the United States.”
Per the indictments, Jose Roberto Lopez-Albarran, a money broker from a Mexican-based international money laundering organization, as well as several others in the group, laundered tens of millions in drug trafficking money since 2015.
Braverman said some of their transportation methods included cash smuggling, transporting money in vehicles in bags, and the use of funnel accounts to wire money from dealers in the U.S. to the cartels in Mexico.
According to prosecutors, most of the funds were wired to accounts for fake companies in Mexico, that were, in reality, owned by Mexican drug lords, including members of the Sinaloa cartel.
Through the use of undercover agents, the FBI was able to infiltrate Lopez-Albarran organization and witness several large-scale drug deals first hand.
Undercover agents reported cash deliveries in California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Braverman believes the U.S. just got a little safer following the drug bust.
“We have siphoned the cash and the life out of a San Diego-based international money laundering organization with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel,” Braverman said.
“By following the money, we have discovered large quantities of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine that are no longer destined for the streets of America.
That’s a one-two punch that takes these organizations completely out of the ring and makes our communities safer.”
If convicted, each defendant could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Final Hit: Over 550 Pounds of Weed Seized and 75 People Charged In Massive Drug Bust
As far as recent drug busts go, this certainly takes the cake. When 554 lbs of illegal marijuana is, by far, the lesser of all evils, you know it’s a large-scale crackdown.
Either way, we should be thankful these people, and these substances, are off the streets. With the current opioid epidemic ravaging U.S. cities, this bust brings us one step closer to salvation. Hopefully.