After a six-month investigation, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday that more than 750 arrests had been made in connection with the violent Mexican Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG.
Project Python was the name of the operation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is the largest to date effort by the US to take down one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and known for brutal kidnappings and murders in that country.
NBC News reports:
In addition to the nationwide arrests, agents seized more than 20 kilograms of drugs and $20 million in cash. Officials say the cartel has hubs in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago and Atlanta and is a major presence on the Southwest border.
Officials say CJNG is responsible for trafficking tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States.
“Project Python marks the most comprehensive action to date in the Department of Justice’s campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy CJNG,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said in a statement.
“CJNG has contributed to a catastrophic trail of human and physical destruction in Mexico,” said Benczowski. “It is the most well-armed cartel in Mexico. Its members willingly confront rival cartels and even the security forces of the Mexican government. CJNG is responsible for grisly acts of violence and loss of life.”
“When President Trump signed an Executive Order prioritizing the dismantlement of transnational criminal organizations, the Department of Justice answered the call and took direct aim at CJNG. We deemed CJNG one of the highest-priority transnational organized crime threats we face,” he said. “And with Project Python, we are delivering results in the face of that threat for the American people.”
“By removing mid- and high-level members, we inhibit CJNG’s ability to regenerate and to continue to threaten our communities and neighborhoods with their deadly presence,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.
“They are one of the most prolific drug traffickers, trafficking organizations in the world,” he continued. “They have over 100 methamphetamine labs in Mexico, and this country is being flooded with methamphetamine.”
“Mexican drug cartels pose a serious threat to communities right here in Kentucky, and CJNG is perhaps the most violent and ruthless of them all,” said Todd Scott, who took over in February as the special agent in charge of DEA’s Louisville Field Division.
“DEA will not stop until CJNG is destroyed and its members face justice,” Scott said Wednesday.
The Courier-Journal adds:
Rubén Oseguera Cervantes commands the Guadalajara-based Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, an army of about 5,000 that set up drug cells in Louisville and Lexington. The cartel leader is called “El Mencho,” and he isn’t a household name in the U.S. yet, but drug agents say he should be.
He’s now considered more powerful than infamous Sinaloa Cartel boss “El Chapo,” who is serving a life sentence in federal prison.
El Mencho has remained in hiding for eight years, dodging near arrests in 2012, 2015 and 2018. But law enforcement agencies are getting increasingly closer to his inner circle, including hauling his son and daughter before federal judges in Washington, D.C., last month.
At least one former DEA agent doesn’t believe it will have the large effect on every day business for the cartel.
Mexico News Daily reports:
However, despite the large number of gang members arrested, a former DEA agent doesn’t see it having a large effect on the day-to-day operations of the cartel’s leader, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera, for whom the U.S. has offered a US $10-million reward.
“They aren’t going to betray him,” said Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the DEA. He said that few operatives in the cartel even know where El Mencho is located.
He cited the case of drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero, for whom there has been a $20-million reward offered for years, but no one has stepped up to turn him in.
Vigil is convinced the arrests will have little impact on the CJNG’s operations.
“Those arrested are very low-level; many don’t even know they’re working for the cartel,” he said, adding that “the structure in Mexico is still intact,” which means, based on his experience, that the structure in the U.S. can be maintained.
Vigil said that even family members are replaced in El Mencho’s operation without much fuss. Oseguera’s own son, Rubén “El Menchito” Oseguera González, was extradited to the U.S. in February, but Vigil said that he can likewise be replaced easily.
“El Menchito played an important role by being [Oseguera’s] son. He will be replaced,” said Vigil, adding that in the structure of the cartel, “anyone can be replaced easily … even his kids.”
Still, authorities see El Mencho’s inner circle collapsing in on him. His daughter Jessica “La Negra” Johana Oseguera González was recently arrested in Washington, D.C., while appearing before a federal court for a bond hearing for her brother.
Vigil, who led much of the operation to arrest Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, sentenced to life in prison in the United States in July of last year, said that the Sinaloa Cartel is still the “most powerful” mover of drugs into the U.S.
While the feds have taken down these people, one thing that everyone needs to keep in mind is that the feds have been the ones behind the drug running for decades.
Just take a look back at the history of the CIA black ops in the Caribbean and you’ll understand.
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