Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mexican Narcos Are in Every American City! Or, There Exists a Global Supply Chain

Via Malcolm Beith, this, from a story on Operation Xcellerator, is an amusing reflection of the fact that for all the talk about Mexican gangs operating in American cities, mass arrests in the US do little to affect the Mexican capos:
Many of the people they do arrest are not even middle management. They are low-level American street dealers and "mules" who help smuggle the drugs. But most have never heard of the Mexican organized crime gangs they're supposed to represent, let alone have conducted business directly with the cartel. Such workers are easily replaced with only an inconvenience to the organization.


The Justice Department claimed that Xcellerator arrested "hundreds of alleged Sinaloa cartel members and associates," but the outcomes of individual criminal cases suggest otherwise.

Otis Rich, a 34-year-old career criminal from Baltimore, Md., was arrested after he was connected, via cell phone calls, to another Baltimore cocaine dealer, who had his product shipped from an Arizona trafficker, who got his product from Mexico.

When asked about the Sinaloa cartel, Rich said, "Sina-who? I don't know anything about them guys." He's serving 15 years in federal prison in Atlanta for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Xcellerator, you may remember, was hailed as an unprecedented blow to Chapo Guzmán, despite the fact that Chapo was about as threatened by the arrest of Otis Rich as I would be if you kill an errant blade of grass while walking from your home this morning. Here's a portion of the DoJ press release when the operation was announced:
The Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for bringing multi-ton quantities of narcotics, including cocaine and marijuana, from Mexico into the United States through an enterprise of distribution cells in the United States and Canada. The Sinaloa Cartel is also believed to be responsible for laundering millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from illegal drug trafficking activities. Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise by violating various felony provisions of the Controlled Substances Act; conspiracy to import controlled substances; money laundering; and possession of an unregistered firearm.

“We successfully concluded the largest and hardest hitting operation to ever target the very violent and dangerously powerful Sinaloa drug cartel,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “From Washington to Maine, we have disrupted this cartel’s domestic operations—arresting U.S. cell heads and stripping them of more than $59 million in cash—and seriously impacted their Canadian drug operations as well. DEA will continue to work with our domestic and international partners to shut down the operations of the Sinaloa cartel and stop the ruthless violence the traffickers inflict on innocent citizens in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”

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