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7:21 PM: Federal investigators today announced the dismantling of a large-scale drug trafficking ring authorities claim imported an estimated $17.5 million worth of heroin from Mexico to California, including to cities in the Bay Area.

Acting U.S. Attorney Larry Brown said at a news conference in Sacramento this morning that “Operation City Commuter,” which uncovered the trafficking of about 200 kilograms of heroin, involved importing the drug from Michoacan, Mexico, to Southern California, through the Central Valley and up to the Bay Area.

Brown said the heroin coming into the U.S. and the cash going back to Mexico were transported in hidden compartments in vehicles, such as in the cars’ engines and transmissions, Brown said.

Three cars have been seized in connection with the operation, he said.

Heroin imported by the trafficking operation was sold in cities including San Francisco, East Palo Alto and Oakland.

Undercover officers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood were involved in the first arrests related to the drug ring more than a year ago, according to San Francisco police Capt. Denis O’Leary, who also attended today’s news conference.

An undercover officer who wished to remain anonymous said that learning who drug dealers are requires gaining trust among the drug-using crowd.

“Usually someone will introduce you, then you purchase (the drugs) and get the dealer’s phone number and see the car,” he said.

He said another officer watches over the transactions to protect the plainclothes officer.
Of the 21 people named in the indictments unsealed Wednesday, 10 had been arrested as of this morning. Several of the suspects were already in custody on unrelated charges, Brown said. The other 11 remain outstanding, he said.

The operation uncovered $670,000 in bulk cash allegedly set to be smuggled back to Mexico, according to Brown.

Brown could not estimate how much heroin in California came from this particular drug ring, but said “Operation City Commuter” is the largest such operation in at least the past five years.

“This investigation strikes a major blow against heroin trafficking in Northern California,” he said.

San Mateo County District Attorney James Fox, who is also chair of the governing board of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force, said at today’s news conference that heroin has become more prevalent in the drug community in the past few years.

The drug trafficking charges carry a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. The next court date is for a status conference before U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wagner on Aug. 10.

1:17 PM: Federal authorities today announced the indictment of 21 people believed to be involved in a drug trafficking ring that imported an estimated $17.5 million worth of heroin to California, including to parts of the Bay Area.

Acting U.S. Attorney Larry Brown said at a news conference in Sacramento this morning that federal drug enforcement agents have seized about 50 kilograms of heroin worth about $4.4 million.

Heroin imported by the trafficking operation was sold in cities including San Francisco, East Palo Alto and Oakland.

The suspects were believed to be transporting the heroin from Michoacan, Mexico, to Southern California, through the Central Valley and up to the Bay Area, Brown said.

The 18-month investigation, called “City Commuter,” was carried out jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Francisco Police Department and the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force.

In addition to the 50 kilograms of heroin, about $250,000 in cash allegedly destined for Mexico was seized, Brown said.

Ten of the suspects have been taken into custody or were already in custody on unrelated charges when the indictment was unsealed earlier this week, Brown said.

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  • Nora Weber

    If Americans did not have such an outrageous appetite for drugs, the drug runners would not have anyone to sell their drugs to. Mexican drug runners would be out of business.

    Americans are such a bunch of phonies. Their the biggest drug users in the world and they want to blame everyone else for their problems. Just look at the numbers of prescription drug addicts, and it will make illegal drugs look small in comparison.

    Make them all legal and put a tax on them that would launch a space ship, and then see who buys them or who will be selling them? Also tax prescription narcotic drugs.
    You will see the market dry up.

    Opps, one problem, it sure would put a lot of law enforcement agencies out of business and clear out a lot of our prison population. Umemployment would rise greatly among law enforcement, and we just can’t have that.

  • Rachel Contreras

    Big deal isn’t it what he’s suppose to do, find the bad guys and lock them up.He’s not a hero it’s the job he signed up to do!!!!