Federal officials in Los Angeles Wednesday announced the results of Project Python, joint-agency operation targeting the Jalisco New Generation Cartel — known as CJNG — a Mexico-based cartel that controls up to two-thirds of the drug market in the United States.
Prosecutors said the six-month investigation of CJNG led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration culminated in arrests throughout the U.S., including Los Angeles, where two indictments were filed in federal court.
“International drug trafficking organizations — notably the powerful drug cartels based in Mexico and South American — have, for too long, been able to exert power in their home countries,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna told reporters in Los Angeles. “These groups bring the pain of addiction and the scourge of violence to the United States.”
CJNG is responsible for much of the methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and synthetic opioids in the U.S., Hanna said.
“They use some of that drug money to buy high-powered weapons in the United States,” he said. “As a result, CJNG is extremely well-armed, and regularly confronts rival cartels and Mexican security forces.”
In a search of a CJNG stash house in South Los Angeles last year, officials discovered 46 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 15 pounds of heroin, about seven pounds of fentanyl and over a pound of cocaine, Hanna said.
“While the Mexico-based leaders of this transportation ring are fugitives believed to be in Mexico, we have arrested the operatives in the United States, including those who ran stash houses in Rancho Cucamonga and the San Fernando Valley,” he said.
On Friday, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted four people who were involved in the purchase of two M-60 machine guns — which are fully-automatic, military-grade firearms that each cost $15,000, Hanna said.
“During the negotiations that led to the sale, one member of the conspiracy said he represented buyers who wanted to purchase hundreds of assault rifles — all of which would be sent to Jalisco, and we are confident they intended to provide these weapons to CJNG, which is well known for its acts of senseless violence,” he said.
Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the DEA’s field office in Los Angeles, said authorities have posted a $10 million reward for the arrest of CJNG kingpin Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera.
The reward represents one of the largest approved reward in the history of the State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program, Bodner said.