Suspected members of Mexican drug cartel arrested by ATF

Received an interesting DOJ press release this afternoon that talks about the arrest of four local men involved in running guns and drugs for a Mexican drug cartel, right here in the San Gabriel Valley.
Here’s some of what is says:


An investigation into guns being trafficked from Arizona to California has led to the arrest of four individuals, one of whom sold several machine guns to a undercover operative and claimed to be tied to a Mexican drug cartel.

        The four defendants were arrested early this morning by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department. During the course of the 10-month investigation, authorities purchased or seized 50 firearms, including 17 guns that were discovered during the execution of search warrants this morning.

        During the investigation, an undercover operative made a series of gun purchases from three of the defendants. The purchases included guns similar to AK-47s, Uzis and AR-15s, some of which were fully automatic weapons.

        Those arrested today are:

  • Edgardo Prado Casteneda, aka “Primo,” 26, of Azusa, who claimed to be a Southern California operative of the La Familia drug cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico;
  • Vicente Garcia Jr., aka “Chevy,” 38, of Azusa;
  • Steven Scott Blanks, 47, of Norco; and
  • Victor Velasquez, aka “Fingers,” 34, of El Monte, who is accused of delivering a quarter-pound of methamphetamine that was purchased by the undercover operative.

The four defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

<snip>

 The arrests were made today as Prado apparently made plans to collect a “debt” and possibly kidnap a man he said owed money to La Familia. Over the past several weeks, Prado allegedly had a series of conversations with the undercover operative about helping collect a large “debt” that a man owed to La Familia. According to the affidavit, Prado told the informant that a boss in the cartel that he called “Cuete” had sent a courier to Mexico to transport narcotics, but the courier was arrested and provided information to Mexican authorities that led to the arrest of another high-ranking cartel member in Mexico City. As a result of this, “Cuete” owed the Cartel $3 million. If the informant participated in the collection of the “debt,” Prado promised him a share of money that would be paid by the cartel.

        A criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles charges Prado with selling firearms without a license and distributing methamphetamine.

        Garcia is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

        Blanks is charged with possession of a machine gun.

        Velasquez is charged with distribution of methamphetamine.

        If convicted of the crimes alleged in the criminal complaint, the defendants would face maximum potential sentences of at least 10 years in prison.

An affidavit filed in federal court and attached here details gun deals, drug deals and talk of contract murder and kidnapping. All apparently connected to “La Familia,” a Mexican drug cartel. Here’s all the details 

cartel gun runner – affidavit.pdf

 

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Mexico’s Gulf Cartel targeted by feds

This from the Los Angeles Times:

Federal authorities announced indictments Monday against the reputed leaders of Mexico’s Gulf cartel and its paramilitary force, the Zetas, accusing them of trafficking tons of cocaine and marijuana from South America through the Texas-Mexico border.

Three of the men are identified as the “triumvirate” that manages the far-flung enterprise, dividing its territories among themselves. Another reputed leader, Miguel Angel Trevio Morales, allegedly controls the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, where the cartel is believed to funnel large amounts of drugs through the busy truck crossing into Laredo, Texas.

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Will it spill over the border?

24896-cartel-thumb-300x182.jpg

Reports that two Mexican drug cartels have joined forces and have a combined fighting force of 100,000 foot soldiers has some local officials concerned that the drug war south of the border could spill into our communities.

The idea of such an alliance reminds me of the gang truce between rival hispanic street gangs that led to the rise of La Eme in the 1990s.

In any event, Mexican President Felipe Calderon defended his country’s efforts agsinst Narco-Terrorists in Mexico City this afternoon. Here’s Bloomberg’s take:

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon delivered his strongest defense yet of his government’s fight against drug cartels, alleging some U.S. officials are corrupt and accusing the media of lying.

“To say that Mexico doesn’t have authority over all of its national territory is absolutely false and absurd,” Calderon said today in Mexico City.

Mexico hasn’t lost any territory to traffickers, Calderon said. He criticized the media for mounting a campaign of “lies” against Mexico. His comments come two days after Dennis Blair, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, said Mexico isn’t in charge of parts of the country.

Calderon, 46, came to power in 2006 promising a crackdown on the cartels. He has sent tens of thousands of soldiers to areas where smugglers battle over routes into the U.S. Retaliating for arrests and record drug seizures, gangs beheaded rival smugglers, assassinated police officials and executed entire families.

The drug war is reducing annual gross domestic product by 1 percentage point, according to the government. Narcotics-related deaths more than doubled last year as Calderon‘s crackdown disrupted drug operations and increased competition for the best supply routes to the U.S.

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