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'Operation Crystal Shield' cracks down on 'ruthless' meth cartels

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Posted at 12:18 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 15:22:52-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego Field Division made scores of arrests and seized thousands of pounds of methamphetamine during a recently concluded six-month crackdown on Mexican cartels that distribute the drug in the United States, the federal agency reported Thursday.

Personnel with the local DEA unit, whose jurisdiction comprises San Diego and Imperial counties, conducted 29 investigations, captured 81 suspects, and impounded 4,462 pounds of methamphetamine and $489,000 in drug proceeds during the enforcement effort, dubbed Operation Crystal Shield.

"Although (the region has) been locked down since March due to COVID, DEA has been working hard to stop ruthless cartels from bringing methamphetamine into our communities," said John Callery, special agent in charge of the agency's San Diego-area division.

Nationwide, agents completed more than 750 investigations, resulting in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms during the operation.

"In the months leading up to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, communities across the United States experienced a surge of methamphetamine," DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea said. "The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued."

The crackdown was launched on Feb. 20, after investigators identified major methamphetamine trafficking hubs in Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego and St. Louis. Together, the nine cities accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized by the DEA in 2019.

"We will continue to be relentless in our pursuit of criminals who continually attempt to poison our schools, communities and environment with methamphetamine and its residual carnage," Callery said.