News Release
February 25, 2009
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
Phone Number: 202-307-7977

DEA Targets Southern California Violent Mexican Cartels in
"Operation Xcellerator"
Nationwide Takedown Takes 23 Tons of Narcotics Off America's Streets

FEB 25 -- (LOS ANGELES) – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum and other law enforcement officials today announced the culmination of Operation Xcellerator, a large-scale investigation that attacked multiple violent drug networks, primarily the Sinaloa Cartel, operating in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The 21-month multi-agency law enforcement investigation resulted in 755 individual arrests, and the seizure of more than $59 million in cash, more than 1,200 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 12,000 kilos of cocaine, more than 8 kilos of heroin, more than 16,000 pounds of marijuana, approximately 1.3 million dosage units of MDMA (ecstasy), and 169 weapons. In addition, 149 vehicles, 3 maritime vessels, and 3 aircraft were seized.

“The criminal organizations targeted in Operation Xcellerator were smuggling thousands of pounds of dangerous drugs into the U.S., many of which wound up in the neighborhoods throughout Southern California,” said Timothy J. Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “The DEA will continue the collaborative effort between federal, international, state and local law enforcement agencies that has led to more than 150 arrests in the Southern California area, sweeping these violent drug organizations off our streets and ultimately making our communities safer.”

Today, 52 individuals in California, Minnesota and Maryland were arrested as part of Operation Xcellerator, which targeted the Sinaloa Cartel, a major Mexican drug trafficking organization, through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as cooperation with authorities in Mexico and Canada.

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.

The 21-month investigation began shortly after the culmination of Operation Imperial Emperor, an investigation which resulted in the indictment of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)-designated Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT) Victor Emilio Cazarez-Salazar, believed to be a command and control leader within the Sinaloa Cartel. CPOT Victor Cazarez-Salazar remains a fugitive.

As a result of today’s arrests, federal charges were unsealed against numerous individuals in California, Minnesota and Maryland. Cases resulting from Operation Xcellerator are being handled by prosecutors in 11 judicial districts, including the: Central District of California; Southern District of California, District of Minnesota; District of Maryland; Southern District of New York; District of Arizona; District of Massachusetts; Middle District of Pennsylvania; Northern District of Ohio; Western District of Texas; and Eastern District of California. Assistance for Operation Xcellerator was provided by the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs. Additionally, local prosecutions will occur in Los Angeles, Orange County, California, and Riverside, California.

Other agencies involved in theOperation Xcellerator Los Angeles investigations include: High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area/Southern California Drug Task Force (HIDTA/SCDTF), FBI, ATF, IRS, ICE, Pomona Police Department, Santa Ana Police Department, Ventura County Combined Agency Team, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Santa Barbara Police Department, Ontario Police Department, Torrance Police Department, Orange County Regional Narcotic Suppression Program, Southgate Police Department, La Verne Police Department, Glendora Police Department, San Gabriel Police Department, Downey Police Department, Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force, San Bernardino Police Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside Police Department, Fontana Police Department, Colton Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Redlands Police Department, Rialto Police Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Inland Regional Narcotics Enforcement Team, Los Angeles Interagency Police Apprehension Crime Task Force, Glendale Police Department, San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, Riverside District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, United States Attorney’s Office – Central District of California.

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Video B-roll and digital still photos are available at www.dea.gov and upon request.

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