29 Americans arrested in Iowa in connection to Mexican drug cartels


Twenty-nine Iowans linked to two prominent Mexican drug cartels have been arrested as a result of a yearlong U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation.

Operation Last Mile targeted operatives, associates, and distributors affiliated with the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels responsible for the distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine on local streets and social media. According to a release, officials across the country confiscated more than 43 million fentanyl pills and more than 91,000 pounds of methamphetamine.

These arrests are part of a yearlong investigation in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota where they linked 26 cases to the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. More cases and arrests are expected.

What is the Sinaloa cartel?

The Sinaloa cartel is an international crime organization based in Sinaloa, Mexico. The group was formed in the early 1980s trafficking marijuana and was famously led by Ismael Zambada-Garcia Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as El Chapo, according to Britannica.

“The Sinaloa Cartel is a ruthless organization who uses violence and torture to maintain the control of their empire,” Steven Bell, assistant special agent in charge at the DEA Omaha division, which oversaw the investigation, said in an email.

In the early 2000s, the Sinaloa cartel was operating in more than 50 countries and was especially dominant in the U.S., selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana. By 2015, U.S. officials said the cartel controlled the drug market in almost every state, with annual revenue that ranged from $3 billion to $39 billion, according to Britannica.

The Associated Press reported last week a son of El Chapo and three members of the cartel were sanctioned by the U.S. for allegedly trafficking fentanyl and other drugs in the country.

What is the Jalisco cartel?

The Jalisco New Generation cartel, also known by its Spanish initials CJNG, was described by NPR in 2020 as Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization. It’s known for its murder of public officials, police, and citizens. Its main commodities are cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, according to Bell, and use “brutal tactics” against anyone who distributes drugs in their area without permission.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jalisco cartel dominates in fentanyl and methamphetamine trafficking. Their power grew after El Chapo was arrested in 2017 and three years later they surpassed the Sinaloa cartel in its reach throughout Mexico.

“The CJNG and Sinaloa Cartel do not get along and often kill each other in an effort to expand control of drug trafficking areas,” Bell concluded.

Source: Desmoines Register

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