Thursday, November 03, 2011

Officials Bust Drug-Smuggling Ring Linked to Mexican Cartel

Law enforcement officials on Monday announced the breakup of a massive drug-smuggling ring that used lookouts on hilltops in southern Arizona to move huge quantities of marijuana and other drugs across the Mexican border to users throughout the United States. Over the last month and a half, federal, state and local officials have arrested 6 people, from organizational bosses to stash-house guards to those who transported the drugs in backpacks and in vehicles, the authorities said. All were linked to the Sinaloa cartel run by Joaquín Guzmán, Mexico’s richest and most wanted outlaw, who goes by the nickname El Chapo, the authorities said. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, officials estimated that the ring had been in operation for at least five years and had generated more than $2 billion in profits by smuggling more than 3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the United States. Such large smuggling rings usually use tractor-trailers to get their contraband across, the authorities said, but this operation relied mostly on migrants on foot straining under their loads. The authorities acknowledged that the huge smuggling ring took place under their noses. The drugs would be carried across the border in relatively small quantities and then transported north to a network of stash houses in the Phoenix area. From there, the contraband would be sold to distributors nationwide. The route was through the most desolate desert areas of southern Arizona, including the sprawling Tohono O’odham Indian reservation, between Yuma and Nogales. Spotters with radios or cellphones were used to point out the presence of law enforcement and divert loads, the authorities said...more

Now comes the part of most interest to NM: authorities say there will be a "shift" because of increased enforcement. They are currently moving our way and that will happen for sure if Bingaman gets his "perfect corridor" Wilderness bill through Congress. The article continues:

While calling the arrests a blow to the smugglers, the authorities were cautious in declaring victory. “I expect there will be a shift,” said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of Arizona for the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “One investigation is not going to put them out of business. We have to continually adapt.”

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