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Jed Boal ReportingUS and Mexican authorities took down a major Mexican drug cartel today, and Utah drug dealers who sold large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine found themselves caught in the dragnet.
Authorities call it one of the world's most significant drug smuggling enterprises. Today the US Attorney General said Operation Trifecta had brought down an alleged Mexican drug kingpin, landed 240 people in jail and cut off a large pipeline of illegal drugs.
Paul Warner, U.S. Attorney for Utah: “This isn't the first time we've had this kind of a take-down; it's not going to be the last time. We're going to continue to do it over and over and over again to send the message -- don't bring that garbage into Utah."
Operation Trifecta netted alleged drug kingpin Ismael Zambada and his top lieutenants in Mexico. Among those busted were 18 people pumping meth and cocaine into the Salt Lake Valley. According to the indictments unsealed today, that cartel was moving 10 pounds of meth and 11 pounds of cocaine into the Utah every ten days.
Operation Full House was a six-month, multi-agency investigation headed up by the DEA Metro Task Force. The meth and cocaine started in Mexico and went through Los Angeles before it was brought to Utah.
According to the indictment, Hipolito Lopez and his Chief of Operations Pedro Luis Lopez brought the drugs to Kearns. Six dealers are charged with distributing the drugs from there. In all there are 16 drug charges against 18 people, 12 of whom have been arrested in the last 24 hours.
This bust won't cut off the flow of drugs, but it will make a significant impact.
Paul Warner, U.S. Attorney for Utah: “We are going to put a temporary dent in the supply. What we are trying to do is show a continuing commitment to stop the scourge of this stuff coming into our state."
Authorities won't talk specifically about how they busted the members of the cartel, but each faces serious prison time if convicted of the charges of conspiracy to distribute meth and cocaine.