Major Drug Trafficking Ring Dismantled in Central California

Major Drug Trafficking Ring Dismantled in Central California
Above: Seized items | Courtesy of TCSO

On the morning of March 14, 2024, a coordinated effort by 21 teams from state, local, and federal agencies resulted in the execution of 31 simultaneous search warrants across Tulare, Kings, and Fresno counties. This operation was the culmination of a nine-month investigation initiated by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office into reports of significant methamphetamine trafficking between Kings and Tulare counties. Early into the investigation, the Tulare County Tactical – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Unit (TNT-HIDTA) pinpointed two individuals as suspects, which led to a broader inquiry into the drug trafficking organizations involved.

Over the months, TNT-HIDTA expanded its investigation, uncovering that Tulare County served as a pivotal node for distributing illegal drugs sourced from Mexico, extending their operations throughout California and beyond. The collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in October 2023 marked a significant escalation in the investigative efforts, leading to the launch of “Operation SLO Ride.”

The operation has successfully confiscated a substantial quantity of illegal substances, including 389 pounds of methamphetamine, 70 grams of cocaine, 3.5 kilos of heroin, 8 pounds of fentanyl, approximately $340,000 in cash, 18 handguns, and 12 rifles. It has disrupted the activities of two major drug trafficking organizations, leading to the identification of 28 suspects and the dismantling of operations in several cities including Visalia, Tulare, Porterville, Orosi, Dinuba, Corcoran, Armona, Reedley, and Exeter.

The final phase of “Operation SLO Ride” targeted individuals with direct connections to the Sinaloa Mexican Drug Cartel. This last sweep resulted in the arrest of 37 known drug traffickers, with 22 facing federal charges and 15 state charges. Seizures from this phase included 214 pounds of methamphetamine, 3.5 kilos of cocaine, 5 shotguns, 15 handguns, 7 rifles, one bullet-proof vest, and $300,476 in cash.

Overall, “Operation SLO Ride” has led to 85 arrests, including 28 on federal charges, and the seizure of 955 pounds of methamphetamine, 6.5 kilos of cocaine, 64,020 fentanyl pills, 81 firearms, and $640,476 in cash, marking a significant blow to drug trafficking operations linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in the region.

Additional photos related to Operation SLO Ride have been provided here by TCSO

Major Drug Trafficking Ring Dismantled in Central California was last modified: March 18th, 2024 by admin
Categories: Fresno, Kings, Tulare

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