Tag Archives: dea

DEA raids colossal fentanyl operation. Could produce thousands of pills per hour.

By Ben Guarino

In one of the largest drug busts in Utah history, federal agents seized synthetic opioids in bulk and cash by the bagful on Tuesday. The home the agents raided contained a “pill press,” which they considered to be the source of thousands, possibly millions, of fentanyl pills. The drug producers falsely labeled the pills as Xanax or oxycodone and distributed the capsules in part by mail across the United States.

Multiple federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Guard, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, surrounded a house located in the city of Cottonwood Heights, in Salt Lake County. Authorities also searched another home, which the Salt Lake Tribune described as a “stash location.” At the stash location alone, the Tribune reported that authorities found 70,000 pills disguised as oxycodone and another 25,000 as fake Xanax.

Witnesses likened the scene at Cottonwood Heights to something “out of a science fiction movie,” as ABC4 Utah News put it, because agents donned oxygen tanks and protective gear before entering the home. Agencies were concerned that skin contact with fentanyl powder, which was reportedly present throughout the house, posed a danger.

Full Read – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/23/dea-raids-colossal-fentanyl-operation-in-one-of-the-largest-drug-busts-in-utah-history/

How a Mexican drug cartel banked its cash in NYC

NEW YORK — In the photos, Alejandra Salgado and her little brother Francisco look like ordinary tourists strolling the streets of midtown Manhattan. He carries a shopping bag. She wears a white dress, a necklace and a leather tote slung over one shoulder.

But the outings were hardly innocent.

Over two hours, federal agents snapped pictures as the pair visited seven banks, stopping at each one to make cash deposits of just under $10,000 — all from piles of drug money stashed in their bags.

Prosecutors say the flurry of modest deposits was one of the many schemes hatched by Mexican crime cartels trying to bring billions of dollars in drug proceeds back from the United States without attracting scrutiny from banking regulators.

The cartels collect much of their cash proceeds from the U.S. market much the way the cocaine and other drugs come in, by sneaking it across the border.

But using regular banks remains in the mix, said James Hunt, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York City office. The trick is keeping deposits small, because banks are required to report cash deposits of $10,000 or more to the government. The benefit, he said, is that if investigators do catch onto such a scheme, less cash gets confiscated. The bagmen also often face less jail time.

“It’s a little more time-intensive but it’s not as heavy a hit if you get caught,” Hunt said.

Before they went to prison late last month, the Salgados were paid to launder up to $1 million a month collected from drug wholesalers doing business with the notorious Sinaloa cartel, prosecutors said.

Investigators say Alejandra Salgado, 59, who has a Mexico City address and was in the U.S. on an expired visa, was supervised by a high-ranking member of the cartel.

Agents began watching her in New York after her name came up in an investigation of money-laundering cells in southern California, Michigan and Arizona being conducted by investigators from the DEA Drug Enforcement Task Force, Department of Homeland Security, the IRS and local agencies.

Details from the case files of federal agents and narcotics prosecutors provided to the AP offer a look inside how the Salgados operated.

At one point she had been a courier who would drive drug money over the border.

But later, she was assigned by cartel leaders to deposit funds into multiple bank accounts held under fake names, then write checks to a produce company in San Diego controlled by the cartel.

An undercover investigator wearing a wire recorded her calling the assignment a “hassle,” but safer than her previous gig.

After her handler told her there was “a lot of work” for her in New York, she and her brother, a legal resident with an Alaska address, set up shop at a Manhattan hotel in the summer of 2013.

She preferred to collect payments from local drug dealers in midtown, rather than in their home territories in the Bronx or Washington Heights, for security reasons.

“Like a friend of mine said: ‘This is a business for tough people,’” she said in a conversation with the undercover agent. “And it’s all based in trust.”

While under investigation, the siblings made at least two dozen deposits in amounts ranging from about $8,100 to $9,600 at banks located from the Upper West Side to Canal Street.

Following the money trail was worthwhile to “gain insight into the practices” of the cartels, said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, whose office prosecuted the case.

Sourced From  – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-a-mexican-drug-cartel-banked-its-cash-in-nyc/

Drug industry hired dozens of officials from the DEA as the agency tried to curb opioid abuse

By Scott Higham, Lenny Bernstein, Steven Rich and Alice Crites

Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or distribute highly addictive pain pills have hired dozens of officials from the top levels of the Drug Enforcement Administration during the past decade, according to a Washington Post investigation.

The hires came after the DEA launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic that has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths each year. In 2005, the DEA began to crack down on companies that were distributing inordinate numbers of pills such as oxycodone to pain-management clinics and pharmacies around the country.

Since then, the pharmaceutical companies and law firms that represent them have hired at least 42 officials from the DEA — 31 of them directly from the division responsible for regulating the industry, according to work histories compiled by The Post and interviews with current and former agency officials.

The number of hires has prompted some current and former government officials to ask whether the companies raided the division to hire away DEA officials who were architects of the agency’s enforcement campaign or were most responsible for enforcing the laws the firms were accused of violating.

“The number of employees recruited from that division points to a deliberate strategy by the pharmaceutical industry to hire people who are the biggest headaches for them,” said John Carnevale, former director of planning for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, who now runs a consulting firm. “These people understand how DEA operates, the culture around diversion and DEA’s goals, and they can advise their clients how to stay within the guidelines.”

Read Full – https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/key-officials-switch-sides-from-dea-to-pharmaceutical-industry/2016/12/22/55d2e938-c07b-11e6-b527-949c5893595e_story.html?utm_term=.a6e6664d1a03