43 Drug Cartel Suspects arrested
Today 'Operation Second Sole' was announced by authorities in San Diego, California, 14 were arrested in early morning raids in the South Bay area, and surrounding suburbs. Those detained today, were described as 'high value targets with cartel connections'. Authorities say more arrests are imminent, and have not released the names of those charged, nor a list of complaints against the defendants. The year long operation was a joint effort, that according to San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne stated that the operation began as a local police investigation into drug trafficking, and grew to include the following Federal agencies, Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S Marshal's Service, among others.
During the press conference Capt. Jim Collins of the SDPD declared that during the course of the operation over 800,000 dollars were seized, in addition to the 376 pounds of cocaine, 46 pounds of methamphetamine, 4 pounds of heroin, and 46 pounds of marijuana. Up to 13 of the suspects, linked to an as of yet, unamed drug cartel will face federal drug trafficking charges. The suspects allegedly participated in crimes ranging from narcotic and weapons trafficking, to home invasions, robbery, and kidnapping, in the continuance of their criminal enterprise.
This announcment comes three days to the year of another San Diego based crackdown on cartel members operating in the city, 'Operation Luz Verde's indictment was unsealed on July 22, 2010, a criminal complaints against 43 accused drug suspects linked to the CAF (Cartel Arellano Felix), though referred to in the indictment as FSO (Fernando Sanchez Organization), after the alleged boss of the group, known as El Ingeniero, who was named, yet not indicted.
Though details remain scarce, the similarities between the two are unmistakable, with several differences that could prove important. The 43 is most likely a coincidence, but the timing, a year long operation, directly following another could be the result of testimony from those held in the 'Luz Verde', case. Those 43 named last summer have yet to be sentenced, and no reports of any court room appearances have been made public. Armando 'El Gordo' Villareal, a primary defendant in 'Luz Verde' who remained unapprehended, was detained in Sonora a week ago. "Operation Second Sole' seems to suggest a 'second' of some sort, and the alleged crimes are practically identical to those of 'Luz Verde', including trafficking, kidnapping, and home invasions, in the South Bay area, with the accused cartel members or associates living in San Diego homes and apartments. Also, in both cases authorities have stated that they stopped either murders from being committed, or in the case of 'Second Sole' a kidnapping and subsequent homicide. This points in the direction of cooperating informants, wiretaps, and heavy surveillance of those involved.
Some important differences remain, however, the defendants in the 'Luz Verde', primarily trafficked in methamphetamine and marijuana, and although some cocaine was seized, (30 pounds) there is a large contrast between the amount seen in 'Second Sole' (376 pounds), while only 46 pounds of marijuana were confiscated. Are the differences coincidental? Or are these the workers and associates of a different cartel, that traffics cocaine on a larger scale then the FSO? Also, from the beginning the authorities labeled those rounded up a year ago, as members and associates of Fernando Sanchez's group, while so far authorities have only said "some had associations with drug cartels". However, looking at the amounts and types of drug seized, it's clear that the indictments of 'Second Sole' have more then a tentative link to a larger organization. It is unknown when more details will be released, that will shed more light on the two cases, and the link, or lack of a link between them.
Link to video report:http://www.10news.com/news/28594757/detail.html
Sources, AFN Tijuana, Sign on San Diego, San Diego Ten News, San Diego 8 News, DEA.Gov, Zeta Tijuana.