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Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 12/15/2010

Nine with ties to Mexican cartel charged

By Theola Labbe'-DeBose

Nine illegal immigrants from Mexico with ties to a violent drug cartel face federal charges after trying to set up a crystal methamphetamine operation in the Washington region, authorities said.

In a morning press conference at D.C. Police headquarters, Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the Washington region was an untapped market for the drug commonly known as crystal meth.


U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. is flanked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's John P. Torres and D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier at the press conference. (Theola Labbé-DeBose/Post)

The defendants also have ties to "La Familia," an extremely violent Mexican drug cartel that exports drugs to the United States, said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of the Washington office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement . "They won't sell to their own Mexican citizens," Torres said.

The defendants were indicted Monday by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Authorities seized more than 50 pounds of crystal meth, a notable seizure for the region, Lanier said. The second highest amount seized in the area was about two pounds, she said. The street value of the seizure was estimated at more than $3.5 million.

"It's an open market here. No one has ever come in and taken a stronghold," Lanier said.

Additionally, the drug was not in its usual smaller form, which authorities refer to as "pebbles" but in a larger "icicle" form. "That means that this group is more sophisticated and better organized," Torres said.

The undercover operation began around Nov 15 with D.C. police and expanded to include federal authorities. Officials were sketchy on details, citing the need to protect an ongoing investigation, but said that D.C. Police became aware several weeks ago of the operation to bring crystal meth into Washington. One of the defendants, Esteban Almontes Rodriguez, 25, is a major cocaine and marijuana trafficker in the region, authorities said, likely for La Familia.

The operation spread down the Eastern seaboard and authorities eventually made arrests in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, NC.

In addition to Rodriguez, who most recently was of Temple Hills, the individuals facing charges are: Alberto Garcia Calderon, aka "Flaco" (skinny in Spanish), 36; Alejandro Quintana Cardenas, 25; and Moises Ramirez-Perez, who authorities believe is 19. Those men were arrested in North Carolina, and Calderon is believed to be the leader of the distribution route into Washington and the supplier of drugs for Rodriguez, according to an affidavit supporting the arrest warrants.

Georgia authorities arrested Alfonso Martinez-Cruz, 39; Jesus Bustos-Penaloza, 52; Felipe Alvarado-Ponce, 36; and Sergio Garcia-Virelas, 24. The ninth defendant, Jorge Lnu, is still at large.

By Theola Labbe'-DeBose  | December 15, 2010; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  Narcotics, The District, Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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Comments

El Salvador and Mexico continues to rid their countries of uneducated undesirable citizens and send them to the United States.

Remember, illegal aliens are hard working people and they come here to do jobs U.S. citizens won't do. Yeah right, they come to the U.S. and help to destroy it with their poverty, illiteracy, gangs, identity theft, living like animals, and by having thousands of babies to make them United States citizens.

Posted by: RockCreekPark | December 15, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

out with the trash!

Posted by: peanut47 | December 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Where's the news on the border patrol agent who was just killed by these illegal aliens.

Posted by: hared | December 15, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Most of our future taxes will go to investigate & prosecute criminals coming from Mexico & other countries to the south. It's a nightmare, but we will all live in it. No one wants to pay the taxes, but we don't want Grandma assaulted either. A bleak future. Best wishes to La Raza & the open borders crowd. He-ll is in session.

Posted by: Dave115 | December 15, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Most of these guys would be eligible for 10 year US legal residency under the Dream Act, which has no enforcement provisions.

All they would have to do is fill out some papers claiming that they are between the ages of 18 and 30, were brought to this country before 16, and have a US high school diploma (a fake high school diploma is easily purchasable online.)

And Voila! Legal US residency, and we can't touch them.

Posted by: MaryJessel | December 15, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Give us a break, there has been crystal meth in this area for quite some time and in all the surrouding areas so why are federal authorities trying to say that they are actually stopping ANY DRUG TRADE IN THIS AREA OR ANY OTHER MAJOR URBAN OR SUBURBAN AREA. There are people making crystal meth everyday in America so these people don't have to bring it in. The government has never stopped the drug trade and I doubt that they ever will. It has been around my entire life and there is far to much money involved to ever stop it, especially in these dire economic times when people are more desperate than ever, while we watch Congress give more money to the rich and stick the hardworking Americans up every way possible, including holding their meager unemployment benefits hostage.

Posted by: hotezzy | December 15, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

They could have paid for all the dope,and owned all the networks with all the money they have spent on all the law enforcement in the last 30 years of interdiction.

Posted by: mrchrisadams | December 18, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

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