Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Arizona Dismantles "Extensive" Sinaloa Drug Cell- Arrest 200 in Op "Crank Call"

This bust follows on the heels of another significant CDS bust in October, dubbed "Operation Pipeline Express". The operation was trafficking 33M per month of drugs into Arizona.  See the Defense Video at bottom of the October bust.

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona authorities have arrested some 200 people, and seized $7.8 million in cash and more than 1,200 pounds of drugs following an investigation they say has dismantled an "extensive" drug trafficking cell tied to the powerful Sinaloa cartel, federal and state authorities announced Tuesday.

Authorities announcing the 15-month-long investigation said that although the Sinaloa cartel almost immediately regenerates after one of its cells have been taken down, their investigation certainly struck a blow.

"Arresting a drug dealer is one thing but if we can actually follow that backwards and take out the head of the snake of this organization, we exact a lot of pain on those cartels and those folks putting their distribution networks in Arizona," Tempe police Cmdr. Kim Hale said at a news conference announcing the bust.

The 203 people arrested ranged all the way from street dealers and buyers to family members and friends of Sinaloa cartel members who were well-trusted in the organization, Hale said.

The 43 search warrants conducted as part of the investigation led to the seizure of 44 guns that included assault rifles, 650 pounds of marijuana, 435 pounds of methamphetamine, 123 pounds of cocaine and 4.5 pounds of heroin. Combined the drugs are estimated to be worth $12.5 million.

"It's significant enough that I'm sure they recognize it but they're not going to go belly up anytime soon," Hale said. "We can never rest."

The investigation began last year when a Tempe patrol officer pulled over a drug dealer after he saw a street deal. The dealer was later identified as a delivery driver for the drug ring and police said that he delivered methamphetamine to various customers in the Phoenix metro area.

Further investigation led to more extensive undercover work and to local drug dealers throughout the metro area.

Separately, Phoenix agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency had been investigating the ring, so the two joined forces, along with other agencies.

Doug Coleman, acting special agent in charge of the DEA in Arizona, said that he expects further arrests in the case as the investigation continues.

"This is as big a case as gets put together," he said. "I often get asked, 'OK, what have we done? Is the drug war over? You guys get up here all the time and make these claims about big cases.' So why do we keep doing this?"

He said that as long as tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year from drug overdoses, they will continue fighting the drug war. "We will never relent," he said.

He reiterated the strength of the Sinaloa cartel.

"The Sinaloa cartel — that's the biggest and baddest of the drug cartels," he said. "The Sinaloa cartel is a transnational, multimillion industry that has tentacles in every state in the U.S. and throughout the world."

Authorities announced a similar bust of the Sinaloa cartel back in October, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said they dismantled a drug ring tied to the Sinaloa cartel that they estimated was responsible for smuggling more than $33 million worth of drugs through Arizona's western desert every month for distribution nationwide.

They also estimated that the ring was responsible for smuggling more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the U.S. through Arizona over the past five years. They arrested 22 suspected smugglers tied to the ring following their 17-month operation.

The same week, a drug cartel member deported as part of the bust returned to Arizona and was caught with $1.6 million worth of drugs in just one example of how relentless the Sinaloa cartel can be.


  1. HELLOOOOOO! ANYBODY HOME Mr Coleman?! Is there less drug consumption since the commencement of the war on drugs???

    Wouldnt there be less drug deaths if drug users were given councelling by professionals instead of being fought by professionals???

    Give people the FREEDOM to choose to use drugs legally instead giving people the FREEDOM to choose to use drugs illegally!!!

    L E G A L I Z E I T ... A L L O F I T !!!

  2. Why wasn't this on the News? I live in Arizona

  3. "He said that as long as tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year from drug overdoses, they will continue fighting the drug war. "We will never relent," he said."

    Isn't something like 60-75% of a police forces budget go the "war on drugs"? Ya, he better explain it away using heroism. If people dying from substance abuse is what's driving them in an unwinable war then what about all the people that die from all the effects of alcohol?

  4. Good work Arizona! Be Careful Obama my sue and get an injunction against Profiling drug business people, Its an Election Year!!

  5. All these people raising hell about wars on drugs? It may be a shock to you but the vast number of responsible,working,tax paying,citizens of the USA are plenty fed up with illegal drug use and its damage to Society. If they would all drink some cool aid and go away think of what the world would be. Kissing the dopers ass in the name of humanity is getting really old, so either really get serious or turn the loose on the rest of us and let the citizens kill them.

  6. Too bad they don't go after legal drugs that kill many more people than illegal drugs. And it isn't because the illegal drug deaths have gone down, it's because more people than ever are using drugs, illegal or not. It is more obvious now than ever, that illegal drugs are not illegal because of health reasons. The plethora of legal drugs are much more dangerous than the illegal ones, yet people pop them without hesitation, like baby aspirin.

  7. Us media blacks out what happena in mexico..i talk to people about the mexican drug war and they act as if they never would have imagine that was going on in mexico

  8. @Norteno-4:15AM
    By news I am assuming you mean TV? I noticed that and had no luck getting a timely foto yesterday. during my search I did notice 4 or 5 Az sources with the story though. Perhaps it is because Az is doing a darn good job and is the norm? But these two busts are big adn Az should be proud.
    another story is that Obama is cutting the national guard by at least 50% at the border. another report said it is 50-75%.

  9. Im calling BS, This is the 2nd "ring" they have busted and each were bringing in 33 million a month? Its sound like they are just tossing numbers around with no real justification. "hey guys, how does 33 mil a month sound? Sounds good, tell the news"

    As for AZ doing a good job, its just the norm? Not every Mexican is a drug dealer. AZ does profile, I have gotten pulled over many times for NO REASON and asked for my green card not my DL.

  10. The whole quote from the guy was actually, "As long as there are opportunities for big bribes and payoffs for me and my men for letting drugs go through, we will never relent!". PROHIBITION NEVER WORKS, YOU MORONS!

  11. "Thousands of people die every year from drug overdoses"?....this guy has no idea what hes talking about..FYI MORE PEOPLE HAVE DIED OF PERSCRIPTION PILLS than MARIJUANA COCAINE AND HEROIN COMBINED! IF U DONT BELIEVE GOOGLE IT NOW

  12. 10's of Thousands ???, were does this guy get his info from ?, The CDC has already stated that legal prescription drugs cause more deaths than illegal Drugs, in fact more people die from Police acts against drug dealers and the USA than from the consumption of Drugs.

    I don't even do Drugs, don't even want them, but this Drug War has to end.

  13. this bust is all hype..would have been a lot to seize at once, but over 15 months,not nearly so spectacular. they got a bunch of street dealers and buyers. big deal. doesnt change a thing.

  14. I saw it on the news, I believe it was on Channel 10 last night around 9 or 10. And earlier today on Channel 3 for the morning news. Might've seen something too in the AZ Republic. Maybe they were all late on picking up the story or something. At least I'm seeing a lot more of this in the news than I used to.

  15. Its so obvious after Vicente Zambada Niebla statements are accusing the United States of cooperating with the Sinaloa Cartel,boom months later the United States starts hitting the Sinaloa Cartel sice the media is pretty much all over them,Its more than obvious that Vicente Zambada was right.

    I would love for a reporter with a camera to ask the head of the DEA straight forward Why do you allow the Sinaloa Cartel to introduce tons of Drugs that your kids will eventually be consuming??? Is it the Money???People need to start bugging the shit out of political leaders so they can accually do their job,imagine if you were in their position,its so easy to tell which decision is looking out for the people, citizens and which is only making the person making the decision richer. And right now all the politicians are busy getting richer stealing their citizens money. And No im not speaking only about Mexico

  16. Great job DEA!!!! I am totally convinced that you guys dont favor,help the CDS.I dont know how people could even think about such cooperation between rich criminals and the proudly american agency known as the DEA who serves its people with true honesty.

  17. Who watched the video? what kind of SWAT team rolls up on a house with the red&blues on? That loses all elements of suprise. You see the lights for a long time b4 they even get to the house, then they dont even bust down the door!! THEN FLASH BANGS OUTSIDE???? WTF??? What kind of SWAT team is this?

  18. Prohibition Works it keeps cops employed.
    End Prohibition, Save a Doughnut!

  19. Tens of thousands of people dying is no reason to spend billions and billions of dollars to turn addicts into criminals. In Europe, were they have a different approach, they pity people who are addicted to drugs, or sex, or even gambling. It's all treated as a problem and not a fucking reason to build prisons. I'm as Republican as the next guy, but I am not one with my head up my ass like the rest of these do gooders. Fact is, in most states the prisons are PRIVATIZED, and make PROFITS on the more people they house!!! They have share holders (a lot of AZ's legislators have big shares) that demand profit. Then, they spend millions lobbying to keep weed a felony, or pass other stupid as fuck laws to make everyone who has anything to do with the criminal system worse than they were before they even met a cop. It is so fucked up its crazy. Look, no one wants crystal meth to be legal in any way. And coke, that's another story. But weed? Weed is a schedule one, and meth is a two? WTF??!?! And if they were worried about the "tens of thousand" who die of overdoses, why the fucking baby jesus is alcohol or cigarettes legal?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Nixon should have taken a shit after he thought up the War on Drugs, and maybe he would have had a better thought.

    Face it, the democrats blame the rich and everyone else for the problems when their glory boy is the worst of them all, and the Republicans want government to stay out of their business...unless it has to do with abortions, weed, gays, or vibrators. I'll stay in the middle, where you can see that no one is right!

  20. what's with throwing names around you moron?

    anyway this is for all of you legalize drug types.
    not one person sitting in a drug rehabilitation center wishes to be. matter of fact all the mothers fathers and family members are not too happy about their loved ones that overdosed "as in died". you haven't lived till you come home from an 8 to 14 hour shift to find that drug addicts have robbed everything that you worked so hard for just so they could get another fix.
    I could go on and on but the point is stop the drugs stop the suffering.


  22. We are winning the war on drugs !!

    like we won in irak !!
    like we are going to win in afganistan !
    like charlie sheen is winning the life race!
    we are winning the war on drugs like we won in Vietnam !

    ohhhh yeaaa we are winners allright !

  23. Yes it sucks that there are drug users in this country but you have to accept that they are there and they'll always be there.

    As a tax payer in my opinion the money taken away from me is better spend on rehabilitation than incarceration.

    Yes rehab does not work always but really, I'd take even one third rehabbed and returning to WORKING LIFE AS TAX PAYERS than sending them to prisons for draconian sentences where they will only take money.

    Nevermind that the whole war on drugs has taken BILLIONS and what do we have to show for it? Nothing at all.

  24. Disagree with legalization.....would create a mountain of walking zombies. Legalization does not attack the root cause of drug abuse.

  25. No one denies that drug use causes harm to the users as well as others around them. Wow, just like tobacco! Just like alcohol! Both of which are legal. You will NEVER eradicate drug use by making it illegal. NEVER! Prohibition failed and this has failed too. Tell you what - let's waste just YOUR tax dollars on this failed effort while I put my tax dollars to good use.

  26. Legalization would cause a mountain of walking zombies?? Alcohol is legal yet only 1 out of 10 drink alcoholically. Drugs are no different. Most people who try cocaine or pain killers only do it a few time. A minority get hooked. We don't know why, maybe its genetic. Regardless of why, the number of drug users will remain pretty steady regardless of the legal ramifications. Alcohol is a mind altering substance just like heroin is so you might as well classify them together.


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