Authorities Take Down Drug Organization With Ties To Sinaloa Cartel

Published: Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 3:47pm
(Photo by Kathy Ritchie - KJZZ)
Weapons confiscated by law enforcement.
Kathy Ritchie
Items confiscated, including cash, drugs and weapons
Kathy Ritchie
Assault rifles confiscated by law enforcement

After more than two years, law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level have completed an investigation into a drug trafficking organization with ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

"Besides the operations that are happening in Tempe, there are multiple investigations going on around the country related to this, as well as continued investigation in cartel leadership down in Mexico," said Doug Coleman with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. "Make no mistake, this organization is not a local organization, it is an international drug trafficking organization."

The investigation, called Operation Terminus, has so far resulted in 77 state indictments and the confiscation of millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

"Four-hundred-eighty-five pounds of methamphetamine at a street value of $1.7 million; 50 kilos of powdered cocaine, street value $1.3 million; 4.5 pounds of heroin, street value, well over $100,000, and think about this one: $7.1 million in cash," said Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff.

Ryff said because recreational marijuana is legal in some states, cartels are shifting gears and planting poppy plants for opium instead of marijuana. 

Special Agent Coleman said what started out as an investigation into low-level drug dealers spiraled into an international conspiracy case. Although Operation Terminus is complete, officials said they’re not done investigating. They expect more arrests and drug seizures in the future.

"Only when we take out the entire snake, from its head to the rattle, do we have a significant impact on the operation," Coleman said.

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