SAN DIEGO — Federal officials in San Diego Wednesday announced the arrests of hundreds of suspects and the seizure of more than a ton and a half of narcotics as part of a crackdown on a Mexican criminal gang considered responsible for much of the flow of illicit drugs into the United States.
During a late-morning briefing at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Kearny Mesa offices, DEA and Justice Department officials detailed the results of the multi-agency operation targeting the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
"Project Python is the single-largest strike by U.S. authorities against CJNG, and this is just the beginning," DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said.
The six-month enforcement campaign has resulted in the capture of more than 500 gang associates and 350 indictments, including one against the alleged head of the criminal organization, fugitive Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, also known as "El Mencho."
"Project Python is the single largest strike by us authorities by CJNG to date and this is just the beginning," said John W. Callery, Drug Enforcement Administration Special in Charge.
The Department of State has issued one of the largest narcotics crimes- related rewards ever -- $10 million -- for information leading to the arrest of Cervantes.
In San Diego and Imperial counties, the operation has led to the arrests of about 130 CJNG associates and seizure of 3,282 pounds of methamphetamine, 198 kilograms of cocaine, 59 kilograms of heroin, 44 kilograms of fentanyl, two kilograms of opium, in excess of 27,000 fentanyl pills and 18 guns, according to the DEA.
The Jalisco-based cartel is one of the fastest-growing transnational criminal organizations in Mexico and among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world, and is the source of a large amount of drugs entering the United States and elevated levels of violence in Mexico, according to federal officials.
Last month, Cervantes' son and second-in-command, Ruben Oseguera "Menchito" Gonzalez, was extradited from Mexico to the United States on drug- trafficking charges. Also in February, the alleged drug lord's daughter, Jessica Johanna Oseguera Gonzalez, was arrested in the United States on financial charges related to her suspected violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
"Today, DEA has disrupted CJNG's operations, and there is more to come as DEA continues its relentless attack on this remorseless criminal organization," Dhillon said.