Massive Fentanyl Smuggling Operation Uncovered in Los Angeles

In a major operation, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged 17 individuals in connection with a massive fentanyl smuggling scheme that involved the transportation of the deadly drug from Mexico to Los Angeles. Ten suspects are currently in custody in the United States, while the remaining seven are wanted in Mexico, according to a statement released by the agency.

The charges allege that a San Diego-based trucking company, Carin Trucking, operated a fleet of at least six semitrucks that regularly crossed the border. These trucks were found to be carrying fire extinguishers filled with fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin, cleverly concealed by scrap metal, as per the DOJ’s allegations.

Fentanyl-related deaths have been on the rise, with the drug becoming the deadliest in Los Angeles County in 2023. The rate of fatal opioid overdoses caused by fentanyl has skyrocketed from 20% in 2016 to a staggering 92% in 2022.

The smuggling operation involved the trucks crossing the border and continuing their journey to Los Angeles. Once in the city, a courier would take possession of the fire extinguishers filled with drugs for distribution, according to the Justice Department.

Dubbed ‘Operation Smoke Jumpers’, the government’s two-year investigation resulted in 13 seizures, yielding a significant amount of illicit substances. The statement revealed that authorities confiscated “680,992 fentanyl pills, 3 kilograms of fentanyl powder, 17 kilograms of heroin, and 10,418 pills containing methamphetamine.”

Arrests began on February 8, with six out of the ten suspects taken into custody in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. One of the suspects, Toniel Baez-Duarte, was already in custody for his alleged involvement in a drug-fueled massacre that claimed the lives of six individuals in El Mirage, located in the unincorporated area of Adelanto.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada condemned the defendants, stating, “These defendants used a sophisticated network to smuggle immense amounts of fentanyl into our country. We know that every fentanyl pill can kill, but these defendants did not care about the widespread destruction they were causing.”

The charges against the 17 individuals include two narcotics conspiracies, 12 drug possession offenses, and a money laundering conspiracy. If convicted, they could face maximum penalties, including life imprisonment.

Author: CrimeDoor

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