Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Smith (619) 546-8299
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 15, 2020
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Brewer Jr. of the Southern District of California and Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California announced today that through a coordinated operation conducted over the last three months, hundreds of kilograms of dangerous narcotics were taken off of the streets of Southern California.
State and federal law enforcement agencies worked together to plan and execute this operation, which culminated in a one week coordinated surge in mid-September which resulted in the seizures of approximately 778 kilograms of methamphetamine, 268 kilograms of cocaine, 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 31 kilograms of heroin, and $281,000 in U.S. currency.
In addition to the substantial seizures, six individuals were arrested and charged with various federal drug trafficking charges in the Central District of California out of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section, and numerous additional individuals were charged with federal drug trafficking offenses in the Southern District of California.
The operation focused on identifying narcotics entering the United States though numerous Southern California ports of entry and then being transported to various locations throughout Southern California for further distribution around the country. Numerous High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) teams from Southern California, comprised of both state and federal law enforcement officers and agents, worked throughout the operation to identify and arrest individuals involved in the illegal activity and to seize narcotics and narcotics proceeds.
“Drug traffickers and their networks are not bound by city or county boundaries, and neither are we,” said U.S. Attorney Brewer. “With the combined resources of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, our reach is far and wide. We are seizing the drugs and dismantling the networks that are injecting our neighborhoods with poison.” Brewer praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Smith and his team of prosecutors, as well as law enforcement partners, for their commendable work on this operation.
“This operation underscores our significant – and successful – efforts to disrupt the smuggling routes used by international drug cartels to deliver narcotics to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Hanna. “This concerted effort allowed us to identify shipments coming in from Mexico and being delivered to stash houses across the region. As a result of the excellent work of law enforcement agents, we were able to make substantial seizures and arrest individuals who played important roles in the distribution chain.”
This effort is part of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation jointly undertaken by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the Southern and Central Districts of California. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.
OCDETF Director Adam W. Cohen said, “We must salute the coordinated efforts led by dedicated OCDETF prosecutors from these two U.S. Attorney’s Offices to leverage our multi-agency strengths against these criminal networks.”
The three-month operation was coordinated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Smith, Chief of the OCDETF Section in San Diego, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Alexis Chen, Chief of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section in Los Angeles.
Homeland Security Investigations
Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations
Drug Enforcement Administration
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department