Santa Clara County is "ground zero" for the trafficking of narcotics, according to one prosecutor, who said, "without question, there's been a large increase in cartel activity over the last several years."
Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier ticked off several big cases in San Jose and Gilroy, in which he said the Mexican cartel was involved. One of those cases includes the triple-homicide in January 2011 at the Mexicali Club in San Jose. Those suspects, Vanier said, are all linked to the cartel, and the killings were over drug money.
"The Mexicali homicide is an example of this cartel-related violence occurring here in our neighborhoods," he said.
Authorities also have seized huge seizures of methamphetamine and cocaine - 750 pounds in March and 400 pounds in 2009 - all related to either the cartel, or other types of gangs.
"These seizures, are epic, they're historical," Vanier said.
Part of the reason the drug busts are so big is because the drug gangs are so large and organized, Vanier said. He described how the cartel's headquarters are in Mexico and have regional offices throughout California. Santa Clara County, he said, is a hot spot to operate and distribute hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine each month. Often, families living in Silicon Valley work for the cartel processing the drugs, sometimes out of their homes.
"It is a business," he said. "They run their organization like a Fortune 500 company."
Watch the full report on NBC Bay Area at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Telemundo at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.