Fourteen people were charged in San Diego federal court with conspiring to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl throughout the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Federal, state and local authorities arrested 11 people in Southern California, New York and North Carolina early Tuesday. Three indicted suspects remain at large.
According to an affidavit in the investigation, the organization, which allegedly had ties to the Sinaloa cartel, imported drugs from Mexico and distributed them with a network of traffickers based in California, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York.
During the investigation, authorities seized about 15 pounds of methamphetamine, 4 kilograms of cocaine and 1 kilogram of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate considered 50-100 times more powerful by weight than morphine. It is typically given to end-stage cancer patients and others in severe pain. It is also used as an anesthetic, and miscalculated doses can end in death.
Addicts have been mixing fentanyl with heroin, and authorities, especially in New Jersey, have reported a spike in overdose deaths.
“All of these drugs are dangerous, but fentanyl is particularly troubling because it is lethal in very small quantities,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We will keep striving to interrupt the supply and keep users from making a tragic mistake.”
The drug gang is described in an affidavit as a family organization led by Hugo Adalberto Adrian Ramirez and included his wife, Maria Ayala, his son, Hugo Norberto-Adrian Jr., and his daughter, Crystal Adrian.
Ramirez’s wife allegedly collected drug proceeds in the form of structured deposits into bank accounts in her name.
Earlier this year, Drug Enforcement Administration officials were so concerned about fentanyl abuse that they issued a warning to local police about what they called “killer heroin,” a 50-50 mix of heroin and fentanyl. The DEA urged first responders to exercise “extreme caution” because fatal amounts of fentanyl can be directly absorbed through the skin by touching it.
—City News Service
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