Drug Cartel Bust Leads to Arrests in Utah, Nevada - 8 News NOW

Drug Cartel Bust Leads to Arrests in Utah, Nevada and California

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SALT LAKE CITY  -- Federal agents arrested several suspected bosses of a Mexican drug syndicate in a move authorities said Wednesday decimated a Utah-based cell of the Sinaloa cartel.

At least seven arrests were made Tuesday after raids at a home in South Jordan, a South Salt Lake restaurant and along Interstate 15 in southern Utah.

The takedown was part of an 18-month investigation that yielded more than 30 arrests in Utah, California and Nevada, said Sue Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"It was a great day," Thomas said. "We removed the cell head, who was the guy who was coordinating the shipments coming to Utah from Mexico and California."

Federal prosecutors were expected to begin seeking indictments against the suspects in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City during the next few weeks. DEA agents aren't certain how long the cell had been operating, but Thomas said it was a well-coordinated operation that was deeply entrenched in the Salt Lake City area. The cell was handling large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, she said.

The drugs were being sold locally and repackaged for distribution elsewhere in the U.S., Thomas said. Most of the drugs were being moved into Utah in small packages by couriers.

Over the course of the investigation, authorities also seized more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine, 200 pounds of marijuana, a kilogram of heroin and a kilogram of cocaine, as well as more than $322,000 and guns.

"We think that was a drop in bucket in terms of what they were moving," Thomas said. A pound of methamphetamine is worth about $14,000 on the street, she said.

Authorities expect Tuesday's action to have an immediate impact on the availability of street drugs.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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