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Feds announce massive Utah drugbust that goes up cartel chain

May 28, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds announce massive Utah drugbust that goes up cartel chain

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Two-dozen suspects are facing federal charges after a coordinated bust on a purported international drug cartel working in Salt Lake County.

Utah’s U.S Attorney John Huber was joined by top officials from several departments and the DEA, FBI, and U.S. Marshall Service to reveal the bust at a press conference on Friday.

“There’s more, but this is a big one,” Huber said. “If you are a gang member, you think you are targeting us, well, we are targeting you.”

Federal indictments describe the involvement of 24 defendants who were arrested along with the seizure of 17 firearms, and 40-pounds of meth, KUTV reported.

Court records outline several locations, including West Jordan, Murray, West Valley City, and Salt Lake City as points of operation for the cartel. In March, agents blocked a drug sale of an estimated $14,000 that was scheduled to happen at a Trax platform in Murray.

Sources close to law enforcement verified that there were organized raids on multiple locations in the area within the last couple of weeks.

DEA district agent in charge Brian Besser said the group was working as a business with supply chains and sales territory.

“Drug traffickers hammer their problems on the streets within communities through violence,” Besser stated.

The bust led federal officials to Raul Enrique Lizarraga Lopez, who goes by the name “Maestro.” He is believed to be a pivotal player in the drug cartel that transports narcotics from Mexico to Utah. “Maestro” is currently in custody in California, but may be extradited to Utah.

Although the bust is an accomplishment, several chiefs at the news conference said they are worried about who will take the place of those apprehended.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said the void will always be filled until the ‘appetite’ for drugs is stopped.

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