By Michael Webster
Syndicated Investigative Reporter.
The 22-month multi-agency investigation called "Project Deliverance" resulted in the arrest of more than 2,200 individuals and the seizure of $154 million in U.S. currency, 1,262 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.5 tons of cocaine, 1,410 pounds of heroin, 69 tons of marijuana, 501 weapons, and 527 vehicles.
In announcing the latest arrests, Eric Holder the U.S. Attorney General praised Project Deliverance that he says has targeted the Mexican drug cartels and the smuggling of drugs, weapons and cash across the border. Meaning going into Mexico to fulfill the Presidents promise to the Mexican President at their last meeting in Mexico.
"This inter-agency, cross-border operation has been our most extensive, and most successful, law enforcement effort to date targeting these deadly cartels," Holder said. "Our aim was to target not just cartel operations, but the networks of individuals across the United States the cartels tap to distribute drugs in our country and smuggle cash and guns out of it."
The latest wave of arrests Holder said describing how about 3,000 U.S. agents and officers fanned out in 16 states. The action led to the arrest of the individuals and the seizure of more than 90 pounds of heroin, more than 2,900 pounds of marijuana and other illegal drugs. More than $5 million was also seized, he said.
So far Project Deliverance has resulted in criminal charges against more than 2,200 individuals, including Carlos Ramon Castro-Rocha, the alleged leader of the Castro-Rocha drug trafficking organization. It has also led to seizure of more than $154 million; tons of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine and more than 500 weapons, Holder said.
Holder also praised the Mexican government for its role in supporting the crackdown and the joint effort by both Governments. More than 300 U.S. agencies, including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, are part of the task force.
Recently the Mexican Government killed Drug kingpin Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, his death came during an Mexican army operation.
That result also challenges a long-held notion that Mexican government officials at the highest levels have been helping the Sinaloa cartel win the drug war. Coronel was the No. 3 of the gang led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted drug lord.
According to Mexican authorities the attack was exclusively a Mexican operation. However U.S. Law enforcement acknowledges that U.S. Intel played an important role. But the Mexicans insist that unlike other recent raids targeting top drug lords that have relied on U.S. intelligence, Mexican officials said after a month of intelligence work, the Mexican army zeroed in on Coronel at his mansion in an up scale suburb of Guadalajara Mexico.
One of the world's most powerful drug cartels took a major hit when soldiers killed the drug kingpin in a gun battle, and his death will likely mean more violence as factions fight for the cocaine and methamphetamine empire and smuggling corridors that he left behind.
"I absolutely believe that this will have an impact on ... the Sinaloa federation's capability to move their drugs, at least in the short term," said Dave Gaddis, deputy chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "They will require time to rebuild."
Continuing the raids Friday, soldiers killed Coronel's nephew, Mario Carrasco Coronel, in a shootout in the suburb of Zapopan.
The Defense Department said in a statement that Carrasco Coronel was one of his uncle's possible successors. He opened fire on soldiers, wounding one, before he was killed, the department said.
The elder Coronel, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, is considered one of the founders of Mexico's methamphetamine trade, building clandestine laboratories in the country and smuggling the drug into the United States. He controlled meth and cocaine trafficking routes that extended from Mexico's Pacific coast and inland up to Arizona.
Holder noted that the latest attack on the drug cartels here in the states was just part of a continuing effort by the U.S. Government.
"Without question, these arrests and seizures will disrupt drug cartel operations and impact the ability of traffickers to move narcotics into the United States," Holder said. "These operations have struck a significant blow against the cartels, but make no mistake: We know that as successful as this operation was, it was just one battle in what is an ongoing war. These dangerous cartels will continue to attempt to wreak havoc on both sides of the border, and we will continue to target them with every resource available to the federal government and our state and local partners."
Obama had pledged to beef up security when he met recently with Mexico President Felipe Calderon.
U.S. State Dept.