US officials arrested 175 suspected Mexican drug traffickers this week in raids in a dozen states, the LA Times reports. Prosecutors believe the suspects are part of the violent Gulf cartel, considered to be a driving force in Mexico’s escalating drug wars. The raids were part of a 15-month DEA investigation that has netted 507 arrests and the seizure of more than $60 million.
One of the cartel’s regional hubs was found in Atlanta, where 43 were arrested. Another 66 suspects were nabbed throughout Texas. “We believe these arrests are a substantial blow to the Gulf cartel,” said a key official. Cartel violence has intensified since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown initiative 22 months ago.