130 Drug Traffickers Arrested in San Diego and Imperial Counties in Nationwide Crackdown
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its multi-agency operation codenamed Project Python has resulted in more than 600 arrests, with 130 taking place in San Diego and Imperial County.
The success of the six-month-long operation has led the DEA to significant seizures of money and drugs that will no longer plague communities. In both counties, agents were able to seize more than 3,300 pounds of methamphetamine, 60 kilograms of heroin, 200 kilograms of cocaine, 44 kilograms, and 2 kilograms of opium. A total of eighteen firearms were seized.
Project Python involved the investigation of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG. The ruthless cartel is known for using children and juveniles in order to smuggle drugs across the border from Mexico into the U.S. One particular instance involved children in safety seats that were strapped in the backseat of a car attempting to cross the border. Underneath the car seats, agents discovered dozens of bundles of methamphetamine.
DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery told NBC 7 that the cartel often recruits teens to help members carry drugs over the border. They lure teens into a life of crime by promising them the opportunity to make money and promising new phones, new clothes, and a life of popularity.
San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Terri Perez told NBC 7 “When you have young people strapping drugs to their bodies, including toxic drugs such as fentanyl. If that were to open the packages they would be exposing their faces, their nose, their eyes, and that could be fatal. You’re also walking around with thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs, which can potentially make you a target.”
In addition to recruiting adolescents, the DEA reports CJNG as being an extremely violent drug cartel. The mastermind behind the criminal enterprise is Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervants, also known as “El Mencho” or “The Ghost” due to him rarely being spotted in public.
While CJNG is a top producer of methamphetamine in the world, the DEA’s Project Python has landed the “single largest strike” against the cartel. As the war against the violent drug cartels continues to rage on, the DEA’s goal is to “disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug trafficking organizations around the world and bring their leaders to justice,” according to Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillion.