Feds Bust Iraqi Drug Ring in California

Authorities arrest 60, seize 4K pounds of pot, cite ties to Mexican cartel
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2011 9:36 AM CDT
El Cajon, California Police Chief Pat Sprecco talks about the multi-department law enforcement effort involving an Iraqi-Mexican criminal ring at news conference Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 in San Diego.   (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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(Newser) – Authorities have arrested 60 alleged members of an Iraqi drug ring run out of a southern California social club, seizing some $630,000 in cash, 3,500 pounds of marijuana, and a cache of firearms and explosives, the Los Angeles Times reports. The El Cajon-based club has been a “hub of criminal activity conducted by Iraqi organized crime,” say officials, who point to alleged links with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and a suspected Iraqi Chaldean crime ring in Detroit.

The arrests are the result of an investigation that began in January; it also turned up evidence of illegal gambling. The El Cajon organization received quantities of marijuana from the Sinaloa cartel, and the drugs were sold in Detroit for as much as three times their purchase price, says a DEA rep who called the activity “a typical drug-trafficking pattern.” About half the suspects are likely to face state drugs and weapons charges, while the other half will see federal charges related to conspiracy, drugs, and firearms.

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