After a yearlong investigation, federal and local law enforcement officials in Utah and California broke up an elaborate drug trafficking network Thursday, arresting nine people they believe have been distributing large amounts of cocaine and black tar heroin.
The arrests made a "significant dent" in the Salt Lake Valley supply of those drugs, U.S. Attorney David J. Schwendiman said at a press conference.Undercover agents have seized some seven kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of heroin, $42,000 cash, weapons and some personal property over the course of the investigation.
The arrests come on the heels of federal indictments of 14 people on charges of distribution of cocaine and heroin, conspiracy and aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine and heroin.
Law enforcement officials began making arrests in the communities of Cudahy and Pamona, Calif., Wednesday, followed by the Utah arrests. Three people are in custody in California and six in Utah. Five suspects remain at large, Schwendiman said.
All appeared before U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba Thursday afternoon.
In addition, seven more suspects who face state level charges in Utah were arrested for their alleged involvement in the drug ring. Local officials are looking for an additional three suspects, Salt Lake County District Attorney Neal Gunnarson said.
All of those arrested are in the United States illegally, Schwendiman said.
Some face aggravated felony re-entry charges because they have previous criminal convictions for serious property or violent crimes in the United States and were deported to Mexico, but returned to the United States illegally.