Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Mexican cartels setting up shop across U.S.
Six months went by between the first FBI inquiries into cocaine trafficking at the house on Knightner Road and Pineda's arrest. But for the bureau, he was a prize worth waiting for. A member of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, he had quietly settled in central South Carolina, put down roots and began managing one of the gang's new outposts in the United States. As the cartels expand up and out from the Southwest border, they are sending waves of men like Pineda, many of them trained in Mexico, to run their U.S. operations. In the last few years, they have established a prosperous retail industry, with cartels staking out "market territories," lining up smuggling routes, and renting storage bins and drug houses. Earlier this month, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller told Congress that upwards of $39 billion a year in drug profits from north of the border is making it back to Mexico and the cartels. Atlanta has become a major cartel hub, where cocaine is stored in lockers, storefronts and homes, then trucked to cities such as Columbia, according to federal officials. The Tijuana cartel has set up shop in Seattle and Anchorage, they added. Elements of the Juarez cartel have been busy in four dozen cities, including Minneapolis. The Gulf cartel has reached into Buffalo, N.Y...more