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Home / News / Crime / Feds charge 19, including 9 from SoCal, in drug trafficking scheme

Feds charge 19, including 9 from SoCal, in drug trafficking scheme

by HeyWire AI
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In a significant strike against cross-border drug trafficking, federal authorities have charged 19 individuals in a far-reaching scheme that funneled massive quantities of illegal narcotics through Los Angeles to Canada and across the United States.

The two grand jury indictments, unveiled on Tuesday, reveal the involvement of alleged organized crime members with international connections.

Nine of the indicted hail from Southern California locales, such as LA, Orange County, Long Beach and Riverside County. Martin Estrada, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, detailed the conspiracy trajectories spanning three nations and featuring a web of participants linked to cartel suppliers and corporate-like structures of distribution.

“This is a takedown of a wide ranging international drug trafficking conspiracy,” Estrada said. “This conspiracy spanned three countries that involve drug suppliers connected to cartels in Mexico, drug distributors and brokers in Los Angeles, Canadian truck drivers and a network that exported drugs into Canada and even an associate of the Italian mafia in Montreal, Canada.”

Officials disclosed that “Operation Dead Hand,” a multi-agency investigation led by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, targeted a complex network of importers, truck drivers, distributors and major buyers believed to be working in tandem with Mexican cartels and an Italian mafia affiliate from Montreal.

“Organized crime knows no boundaries,” remarked LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

Donald Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, reiterated the gravity of the arrests.

“Today is an example of society pushing back,” he said.

The trafficking operation involved about 1,860 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,092 pounds of cocaine, 44 pounds of fentanyl and nearly 9 pounds of heroin, according to officials. The estimated total wholesale value was between $16 million and $28 million, and nearly $1 million in cash was seized.

Notable among those apprehended was Robert Scoppa, an alleged Canadian drug trafficker with purported ties to an Italian organized crime family in Montreal.

Transporting drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin, the alleged conspirators made use of major transit points, including the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the Buffalo Peace Bridge in New York and the Blue Water Bridge in Michigan, to shuttle substantial quantities of narcotics valued between $16 million and $28 million wholesale.

The indictments point to sophisticated logistics involving Canadian handlers and dispatchers operating directly from Los Angeles to orchestrate the movement of these drugs, further highlighting the operational complexity of such criminal endeavors.

Agencies involved in the collective takedown effort included the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, among others.

If convicted, the defendants face potential sentences ranging from 40 years to life in federal prison, sending a potent message of deterrence to those involved in the global narcotics trade, according to the Department of Justice

Reporting by KNX News, MyNewsLA.com and ABC7 Chicago

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