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Cops Make $11 Million Drug Bust, Arrest 13 Suspected Sinaloa Cartel Members in the Valley and Ventura County

Sinaloa drug bust, October 2018. Courtesy of ABC7 via Twitter.

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]aw enforcement officials arrested 13 people on drug and weapons charges, all suspected members of the Sinaloa Cartel. They were picked up on top of $11 million worth of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

The bust was part of a year-long investigation in the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County, said officials during a news conference Tuesday in Thousand Oaks.

The investigation began about a year ago, when members of a Ventura County Sheriff’s task force began looking into one operation suspected of distributing bulk amounts of drugs to people in the area. “It started with a street level case in West County, over the hill in Camarillo. And that’s when the first seizures started to take place” said Undersheriff Gary Penits during the press briefing.

'This dope is supplying the thieves and tweekers taking packages off your porch.'

From that first bust, detectives ended up seizing a cache of illicit drugs and money: 161 pounds of methamphetamine, 121 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin, nearly 7 pounds of fentanyl, 600 fentanyl pills, 12 firearms, and more than $353,000 in cash. The combined street value of the drugs added up to more than $10,800,000, officials said.

For Undersheriff Pentis, disrupting the economics of synthetic fentanyl was “critical in this case.” He said his department linked 165 drug overdose deaths in Ventura County in 2017, a 42 percent year-over-year jump in those deaths, to a deadly cocktail of synthetic fentanyl and heroin and other drugs.

Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin, cocaine and meth to hop up their effect and potency. This allows dealers to dramatically dilute the purity of the drugs that they deal on the street. That means greater profits to the Sinaloa Cartel, and to Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, its purported kingpin.

The undersheriff also linked the drug trade to property crimes and home invasions in Ventura County.

“This dope is supplying the thieves and tweekers taking packages off your porch, stealing your mail, stealing items from your car, breaking your rear slider, and ransacking your homes,” Pentis said. “That’s where the $10 million comes from: Our possessions.”

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