Authorities unsealed indictments Thursday against 85 alleged members of local drug and money laundering rings linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
More than half of the defendants, part of suspected East County criminal networks, are currently in custody pending federal court proceedings.
The case, the culmination of a year-long investigation, focused on the distribution of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl throughout Southern California.
Prosecutors also accuse the defendants of laundering “tens of thousands of dollars in narcotics proceeds” for cartel associates in Mexico.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said 38 defendants remain outstanding as of Thursday afternoon. Those arrested will appear in court Friday afternoon.
Authorities have seized drugs, cash and guns in connection with the investigation.
Prosecutors say the defendants used services like Signal and WhatsApp to communicate with each other in order to avoid law enforcement.
Investigators used surveillance, phone records, financial documents and wiretaps to track the defendants, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Agents also worked undercover.
“Today we sent a message to drug traffickers in our community,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “If you sell drugs in San Diego, we will find you and prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”
– City News Service
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