A dozen people were arrested Wednesday in a crackdown on a Southern California ring that smuggled large quantities of methamphetamine from Mexico, authorities said.
The 12 were among 21 people named in federal grand jury indictments charging them with drug-related crimes, including conspiracy and possession with the intent to distribute. Several already were in custody and others remain fugitives, the Daily Bulletin of Ontario reported.
The drugs were typically smuggled across the border inside secret compartments in vehicles, sold by street gangs and the profits intended for the Mexican Mafia, Andrew Sharp, special supervising agent of the FBI’s Riverside office, said at a news conference.
Authorities said around 150 pounds of methamphetamine were seized.
Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez blamed drug-related crime in part for a surge in violence in inland communities east of Los Angeles.
Drugs are often found during routine traffic stops, he said.
“It’s important for me that our residents are able to enjoy our community without the fear of violence, but also without the fear that they become prey to addiction or even death,” he said.
The operation also included members of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.