Home News Stories 2010 June Fighting Cartels on the Southwest Border

Fighting Cartels on the Southwest Border

Leonhart, Holder, Perkins

From left to right: Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart;
Attorney General Eric Holder; and FBI Assistant Director Kevin Perkins. Also speaking at
the press conference was Assistant Secretary John Morton of U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement.

Project Deliverance
Fighting Cartels on the Southwest Border

06/10/10

The results of a nearly two-year multi-agency investigation targeting Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the U.S.—especially along the Southwest border—were announced today, and the numbers speak for themselves:

In addition to the arrest of more than 2,200 individuals on narcotics-related charges, there were significant seizures, including:

  • $154 million in U.S. currency;
  • More than 2,600 pounds of heroin and methamphetamine;
  • More than 71 tons of cocaine and marijuana; and
  • More than 500 weapons and 500 vehicles.

“This interagency, cross-border operation has been our most extensive and most successful law enforcement effort to date targeting these deadly cartels,” Attorney General Eric Holder said during a press conference in Washington.

Cash, weapons and drugs

The 22-month multi-agency investigation called "Project Deliverance" resulted in the arrest of
more than 2,200 individuals and the seizure of $154 million in U.S. currency, 1,262
pounds of methamphetamine, 2.5 tons of cocaine, 1,410 pounds of heroin,
69 tons of marijuana, 501 weapons, and 527 vehicles.

Added Kevin Perkins, assistant director of our Criminal Investigative Division, “Today we have all taken a major step forward to disrupt and dismantle transnational drug trafficking that originates along our Southwest border. Our success demonstrates what we can accomplish when law enforcement agencies in the United States and other nations work together.”

Code named "Project Deliverance," the sweeping 22-month investigation included the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mexican law enforcement, in addition to many other local, state, and federal partners.

Yesterday alone, some 429 individuals in 16 states were arrested as more than 3,000 agents and officers fanned out across the country in a coordinated effort.

Drug trafficking across the Southwest border has led to a surge of drugs in neighborhoods across the United States, increased border violence, kidnapping, extortion, human smuggling, and public corruption, Perkins said. “To help combat this threat, the FBI focuses on areas where we bring something special to the table—in terms of technology, manpower, or federal statutes. And we try to maximize our resources by working closely with our state, local, and international counterparts, as demonstrated by this takedown.”

The Bureau’s specific participation in Project Deliverance included 14 drug- and gang-related cases across FBI field offices in Albuquerque, Dallas, El Paso, Kansas City, Mobile, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Diego.

“The FBI is proud to be part of this effort,” Perkins added. “Today, we see the culmination of our collective efforts. We see the benefits of working shoulder to shoulder as one team.”

The 2,266 individuals arrested during Project Deliverance are charged with a variety of crimes involving conspiracy to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana, along with other violations of federal law. Many of the defendants face forfeiture allegations as well.

The coordinated takedown is part of the Department of Justice’s Southwest Border Strategy, which uses prosecutor-led task forces that bring together federal, state, and local law enforcement to identify, disrupt, and dismantle Mexican drug cartels through investigation, prosecution, and extradition of their key leaders and facilitators—and seizure and forfeiture of their assets.

“This successful operation, however, is just one battle in an ongoing war,” Attorney General Holder noted. “So long as cartels and smugglers attempt to wreak havoc on our borders, we will continue to target them with every resource available to the federal government.”

Resources:
- Press release
- Remarks by Attorney General Holder