Sixteen alleged associates of the Mexico-based Sinaloa drug cartel were indicted and more than 550 pounds of drugs were seized as part of an eight-month undercover investigation that included surveillance operations in Los Angeles, Bell Gardens and Pacoima, Attorney General Jerry Brown announced Wednesday.
Among those indicted were six Los Angeles-area residents, two of whom have been arrested and four of whom remain at large.
“This notorious cartel smuggled massive quantities of cocaine and marijuana into Southern California, fueling addiction and violence across the nation,” Brown said. “Through a very dangerous and courageous undercover operation, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force has dealt a body blow to this syndicate and seized hundreds of pounds of narcotics.”
The indictments, arrests and seizures were the result of ”Operation Silver Fox,” an eight-month effort in which a state narcotics agent infiltrated a Mexican drug syndicate, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
State prosecutors contend the syndicate is responsible for distributing thousands of pounds of cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States and Canada.
As part of “Silver Fox,” more than 100 surveillance operations were carried out, including some in Los Angeles, Pacoima, Bell Gardens, Riverside and San Diego.
Investigators also executed six search warrants and took part in 30 undercover meetings, according to Brown’s office.
Initiated in January, the operation determined that the cartel was smuggling drugs into Southern California, often through the Calexico ports of entry using vehicles with hidden compartments. The narcotics would then be shipped across the country and Canada.
Investigators seized 420 pounds of cocaine and 136 pounds of marijuana, with a combined street value of more than $19 million, according to Brown’s office. Also seized were $1.7 million in U.S. currency, nine firearms, seven handguns, two assault rifles and nine vehicles.
Four of the 16 people named in the indictment have been arrested, but the others are still being sought.
Among those indicted were Marco Mendoza, 43, Juan Gabriel Molina, 28, and Ramon Valenzuela, 33, all of South Gate; Gerald William Andrews, 42, and Hilario Lopez Rodriguez, 43, both of Pacoima; and Norberto Ruelas Urias, 39, of Long Beach. Mendoza and Andrews are both in custody.