US busts drug ring

November 1st, 2011 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Phoenix (US), Nov 1 (IANS/EFE) A network of drug traffickers linked to a powerful Mexican cartel that smuggled drugs into the US across the Arizona desert was busted after a 17-month operation, authorities said.

“Operation Pipeline Express” was launched by law enforcement agencies in May 2010.

US authorities estimate that the network had been operating for five years and during that time it smuggled more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the country.

Officials estimate that the sale of the drugs generated about $2 billion in illicit profits and that the operation is one of the biggest blows ever dealt to the Mexican cartels in Arizona.

It is thought that this organisation obtained that level of profit by establishing a monopoly on smuggling across an 80-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border.

The traffickers used backpackers who crossed the desert on foot carrying bundles of pot. Later, the drug was taken to safe houses in Phoenix for sale to distributors in different states.

To date, a total of 76 people linked to Operation Pipeline Express have been arrested ranging from security guards to drivers and local distribution chiefs.

Among the arrested people are both US and Mexican citizens.

–IANS/EFE
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