In the darkness, the team suits up quietly, putting on their helmets and tactical gear. Federal agents lug battering rams, bolt cutters and heavy weaponry by foot up a hill on a residential California street that’s softly aglow from street lamps. Then the agents turn onto the walkway of their target’s home.
“Police! Search warrant!” one officer yells as agents bang on the front door. “Police, search warrant!” And then three thunderous bangs as the task force breaks down the front door.
Moments later, a suspected member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG, is walked out in handcuffs.
In early-morning raids Wednesday, agents fanned out across the United States, culminating a six-month investigation with the primary goal of dismantling the upper echelon of CJNG and hoping to get closer to capturing its leader, one of the most wanted men in America. There’s a $10-million reward for the arrest of Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera.
The gang controls one-third to two-thirds of the U.S. drug market. It is so violent that members leave piles of bodies in streets and hanging from overpasses in Mexico, and they fill the city of Guadalajara with mass graves. They carry machine guns and hand grenades. They once used rocket launchers to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter.
More than 600 people have been arrested during the operation in recent months, more than 15,000 kilos of meth were seized and nearly $20 million taken as search and arrest warrants were executed. About 250 were arrested Wednesday.
“El Mencho and his associates prey on the addicts, and they prey on small towns where they can act as bullies and infiltrate these small towns,” said Wendy Woolcok, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special operations division. “They promise hope, and they deliver despair.”
Published: March 11, 2020