Project Python: More than 600 suspected Mexican drug cartel members arrested in US

Operation sees US agencies take on one of world's most dangerous drug cartels

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Thursday 12 March 2020 18:32 GMT
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More than 600 alleged Mexican cartel members arrested in United States

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have made more than 600 arrests as part of ‘Project Python’, an interagency operation targeting Mexican drug cartel activity.

The DEA-led initiative focused on members of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), one of the most dangerous drug cartels in the world, who were monitored by federal law enforcement officials over a six month period.

The agencies announced that the operation resulted in 600 arrests nationwide, 350 indictments and seizures of money and drugs.

CJNG is active in major US cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. It is responsible for moving tonnes of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl laced heroin into the US and around the world.

“Project Python marks the most comprehensive action to date in the Department of Justice’s campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy CJNG,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Criminal Division at a press conference.

In the first days of his administration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that made tackling transnational criminal organisations a priority. CJNG was deemed to be one of the greatest threats.

Federal law enforcement agencies used the Threat Mitigation Working Group, put in place by the Obama administration in 2011.

The DOJ and DEA also announced a superseding indictment on Wednesday on charges of alleged continuing criminal enterprise against the leader of CJNG, Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes — known as ‘El Mencho’.

DEA agents search a residential house during an arrest of a suspected drug trafficker on 11 March, 2020 in Diamond Bar, California as part of Project Python, aimed at dismantling the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG.
DEA agents search a residential house during an arrest of a suspected drug trafficker on 11 March, 2020 in Diamond Bar, California as part of Project Python, aimed at dismantling the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, known as CJNG. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

In February, his son, El Menchito, was extradited from Mexico on drug trafficking charges, and is facing trial in Washington, DC. El Mencho’s daughter was arrested for financial crimes later in the month.

“Project Python shows that with close cooperation and clarity of mission, we can take the fight to one of the largest and most dangerous drug cartels on the planet,” Mr Benczkowski added.

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