Gulf Cartel Members, Associates Arrested in Massive Law Enforcement Operation
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following article is based on material obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police)
Last week, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced that 175 individuals were arrested on charges related to an international drug trafficking cartel in a coordinated enforcement action by hundreds of international, federal, state and local law enforcement officials throughout the United States and Italy.
Including the operations announced on September 17, a long-term investigation of one of Mexicoâ€™s largest drug trafficking cartels and its US and international distribution networks has resulted in the arrest of more than 500 individuals in the United States, Mexico and Italy to date.
â€œProject Reckoning,â€ a multi-agency law enforcement effort led by the DEA, targeted the Mexican drug trafficking cartel known as the Gulf Cartel. Among those indicted are the three alleged leaders of the Gulf Cartel: Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano, and Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sanchez. These individuals, each designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs) by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), have been indicted in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on charges that they conspired to import drugs into the United States from Mexico. A CPOT designation is reserved for significant narcotics traffickers who are believed to be the leaders of drug trafficking organizations responsible for the importation of large quantities of narcotics into the United States.
The Gulf Cartel is responsible for the transportation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana from Colombia, Guatemala, Panama, and Mexico to the United States, as well as the distribution of those narcotics within the United States. The Gulf Cartel is also believed to be responsible for laundering multiple millions of dollars in criminal proceeds. Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: drug trafficking charges related to cocaine and marijuana; solicitation and conspiracy to kidnap; attempted murder; conspiracy to use a firearm in a violent crime; conspiracy to kill and kidnap in a foreign country; interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering; money laundering; and other related crimes.
To date, Project Reckoning has resulted in the arrest of 507 individuals and the seizure of approximately $60.1 million in U.S. currency, 16,711 kilograms of cocaine, 1,039 pounds of methamphetamine, 19 pounds of heroin, 51,258 pounds of marijuana, 176 vehicles, and 167 weapons. Project Reckoning, a 15-month investigation, combined into one centrally coordinated effort several multi-district enforcement operations that all involved individuals with close ties to the Gulf Cartel. Operation Dos Equis, Operation Vertigo, Operation Stinger, and Operation The Family, as well as numerous local operations combined to form Project Reckoning.
â€œBy spreading dangerous drugs and resorting to brutal violence, international drug cartels pose an extraordinary threat both here and abroad,â€ said Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. â€œThe scope of the threat demands a deliberate and sustained response and the success we have had, such as the takedowns announced today, is due to the combined efforts of federal, state, local, and international law enforcement. Although I am pleased with the efforts so far, we cannot and will not rest on these successes. The threat posed by international drug cartels is too great. It will take all of us working together to prevail.â€
â€œWe successfully completed a hard-hitting, coordinated, and massive assault on the powerful and extremely violent Gulf Cartel,â€ said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. â€œWe have arrested U.S. cell heads, stripped the cartel of $60 million in cash, imprisoned their brutal assassins, and significantly disrupted their U.S. infrastructure. DEA will continue our relentless attack against this cartel, aiming to dismantle them and stop the violence they inflict on Southwest Border communities.â€
â€œMetro Atlanta unfortunately continues to be a major drug distribution center for the Southeast and beyond. The DEA and our many other law enforcement partners continue to aggressively investigate all aspects of the drug trade,â€ said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia David E. Nahmias. â€œThis major case is another example of their effective, coordinated efforts. The two cartel cells indicted in Atlanta acted like many shipping businesses, coordinating the transportation of truckloads of hidden drugs and millions of dollars in currency across the country and to and from Mexico. Through our sophisticated investigation and prosecutions, we have disrupted these organizations, seized large amounts of their poisons and proceeds, and now will work hard to lock up their members for many years to come.â€
â€œThis operation exemplifies the European vision of the international fight against drug trafficking,â€ said Dr. Nicola Gratteri, Italian Public Prosecutor for the Anti-mafia District Attorney’s Office of Reggio Calabria, Italy.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.