Two Sinaloa Cartel Smugglers Caught near U.S. with Weapons Cache

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PEP

Mexican state police and soldiers arrested two Sinaloa Cartel operatives with an arsenal of rifles, ammunition, and a grenade on Wednesday. The pair were involved in drug smuggling activities near the California and Arizona borders.

The Mexican government announced the capture of two Sinaloa cartel operatives in Mexicali, Baja California, during an operation by elements of the State Preventive Police and the Mexican Army, according to local reports and law enforcement sources. The operation took place in the rural southeastern section of the municipality after police developed intelligence suggesting criminal activities in the immediate area. Sources say a criminal cell was operating small aircraft between clandestine landing strips to move drugs. The aircraft flew from Sinaloa to the California and Arizona borders, where vehicles waited to move the cargo into the United States.

While the state police and soldiers were patrolling in the area, they came upon two individuals standing next to a 1992 Honda Accord. Security personnel noted the two appeared nervous. A search of the trunk produced an arsenal of weapons, including 10 various rifles, one handgun, 6,010 rounds of various caliber ammunition, 23 magazines, two ballistic vests, one grenade, and 3.4 kilos of hashish, according to a local report. The two suspects were arrested and identified as José “N,” 31, and Luis “N,” 21, both originally from Michoacán. The arrested individuals were handed over to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation.

Ciudad Coahuila, precisely where the operation took place, is a valuable location for drug smuggling due to its easily accessible roads to international ports of entry into San Luis Colorado, Arizona, or Calexico, California. Similar operations involving small aircraft smuggling large loads of illicit drugs are also occurring in the area around Ensenada and Rosarito Baja California.

Breitbart News reported on an operation in August 2018 by the Mexican Army which seized approximately 2,700 pounds of illicit drugs (methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl) in two separate security operations in the tourist municipality of Ensenada, Baja California after a Cessna aircraft was spotted in the area. Many other similar operations have taken place locally and numerous cartel operators tasked with protecting these loads have also been arrested.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)

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