Federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Division made scores of arrests and seized thousands of pounds of methamphetamine during a recently concluded six-month crackdown on Mexican cartels that distribute the drug in the United States, the federal agency reported Thursday.

Personnel with the local DEA unit, whose jurisdiction includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, conducted 16 investigations, captured 34 suspects, seized 5,752 pounds of methamphetamine, $15,968,411 in drug proceeds and three firearms during the enforcement effort, dubbed Operation Crystal Shield.

“This targeted operation, even amid the pandemic, allowed us to rid the community of a dangerous and highly addictive drug that is plaguing our streets in Los Angeles and elsewhere,” said Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the agency’s Los Angeles-area division. “Los Angeles is a major transshipment hub for drug traffickers and virtually all methamphetamine in the U.S. comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border, which in turn has a deadly impact here in our communities because of our close proximity to the border.”

Nationwide, agents completed more than 750 investigations, resulting in nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds and 284 firearms during the operation.

“In the months leading up to the launch of Operation Crystal Shield, communities across the United States experienced a surge of methamphetamine,” DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea said. “The COVID pandemic locked down many communities and impacted legitimate businesses, but the drug trade continued.”

The crackdown was launched on Feb. 20, after investigators identified major methamphetamine trafficking hubs in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis and El Paso, Texas. Together, the nine cities accounted for more than 75% of methamphetamine seized by the DEA in 2019.

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