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16 indicted in California drug-smuggling probe

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

The alleged distribution cell for a Mexican drug cartel is accused of hiding cocaine and marijuana in vehicles crossing the border at Calexico. Four are arrested and 12 remain at large.

August 27, 2009|Richard Marosi

California authorities announced indictments Wednesday against a distribution cell of the Sinaloa drug cartel that allegedly smuggled cocaine and marijuana into Southern California through the border crossing at Calexico.

The 16 suspects are accused of transporting the drugs in compartments hidden in vehicles and then storing the contraband at stash houses in the Los Angeles area, authorities said. From there, the drugs were distributed to cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Authorities seized 420 pounds of cocaine and 136 pounds of marijuana during the eight-month operation, which included planting an undercover officer in the ring, said Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown.

Authorities arrested four of the suspects in recent months; the other 12 remain at large. Most are Mexican nationals who lived in Fontana, Long Beach, Rialto and South Gate.

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richard.marosi@latimes.com

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