Federal investigators Thursday announced the dismantling of a large-scale drug trafficking ring authorities claim imported an estimated $17.5 million worth of heroin from Mexico to California, including to cities in the Bay Area.
Acting U.S. Attorney Larry Brown said at a news conference in Sacramento Thursday morning that "Operation City Commuter," which uncovered the trafficking of about 200 kilograms of heroin, involved importing the drug from Michoacan, Mexico, to Southern California, through the Central Valley and up to the Bay Area.
Brown said the heroin coming into the U.S. and the cash going back to Mexico were transported in hidden compartments in vehicles, such as in the cars' engines and transmissions, Brown said.
Three cars have been seized in connection with the operation, he said.
Heroin imported by the trafficking operation was sold in cities including San Francisco, East Palo Alto and Oakland.
Undercover officers in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood were involved in the first arrests related to the drug ring more than a year ago, according to San Francisco police Capt. Denis O'Leary, who also attended Thursday's news conference.
An undercover officer who wished to remain anonymous said that learning who drug dealers are requires gaining trust among the drug-using crowd.
"Usually someone will introduce you, then you purchase (the drugs) and get the dealer's phone number and see the car," he said.
He said another officer watches over the transactions to protect the plainclothes officer.
Of the 21 people named in the indictments unsealed Wednesday, 10 had been arrested as of Thursday morning. Several of the suspects were already in custody on unrelated charges, Brown said. The other 11 remain outstanding, he said.
The operation uncovered $670,000 in bulk cash allegedly set to be smuggled back to Mexico, according to Brown.
Bay City News