After a nine-month investigation, 27 members and associates of the Norteños gang were indicted on May 26 for roles in “a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin through the Wasatch Front,” according to the US Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement officials say they seized more than 42 pounds of methamphetamine, seven pounds of heroin, 5,000 fentanyl pills, 71 grams of fentanyl powder, 15 guns and more than $ 25,000 over the course of the surgery.
The US Attorney’s Office said the Norteños gang’s main narcotics supplier was the Mexico-based Jalisco New Generation Cartel, one of the leading drug distributors in the United States. Investigators estimate that the organization and its members are responsible for “more than 420 pounds of methamphetamine and 50 pounds of heroin transported and distributed in the Salt Lake Valley” in 2020 and 2021.
U.S. Marshal Matt Harris said in an email the investigation was successful and would have an immediate impact on drug distribution in the state.
“However, the cartel will continue to find ways to infiltrate the Utah market and will find other dealers willing to attribute the risk of going to federal prison with the reward of making money,” Harris wrote. .
According to the indictments, the defendants were involved in transporting drugs from Mexico to the United States and to Salt Lake City, where they were distributed.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Metro Gang Unit of the Unified Police Department and the United States Marshals Service collaborated in the operation.
“Anytime you can combine the efforts of federal and state resources, the public is better served,” Harris said. “The best way to continue to fight violent crime is to do it collectively, in a working group environment using the skills of local investigators with the resources of federal agencies. “
The 27 suspects were charged with 34 federal charges: prosecution of the criminal enterprise; conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl; conspiracy to launder money; distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine; possession of a firearm for the purpose of a drug trafficking crime; be a criminal in possession of a firearm; possession of methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin with the intention of distributing them; and be an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.
Five other people related to the operation were charged before the 27 defendants, including four accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one accused of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute it.