AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thirty-five people were arrested in the Austin area this week in a targeted attack on the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety and Austin Police Department, along with other local law enforcement agencies, raided 11 addresses in Austin Wednesday morning as part of "Project Delirium," an effort that involved 20 months of a series of investigations nationwide.
Officials seized drugs, weapons and more than $150,000 in cash. Authorities said it is a significant blow to the cartel in the Austin area.
Louis Bernal watched from his North Austin home as a SWAT team raided his neighbors house across the street Wednesday morning.
"It suprised me because this area is very quiet and everybody is very respectable over here," said Bernal.
Nationwide, officials seized thousands of pounds of illegal drugs and millions in cash:
- $62 million in U.S. currency
- approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine
- 2,722 kilograms of cocaine
- 1,005 pounds of heroin
- 14,818 pounds of marijuana
- $3.8 million in other assets.
Nine people targeted in the raids conducted Wednesday in the Austin area are still at large.
"I would like for this to be a message for all those criminal organizations- that if they are going to be affecting our communities, we are going to come together as whole and we're coming after you- we're coming after you with everything that we have," said Major David Morales, with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Nationally, more than 70 were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday, and more than 200 have been arrested since June 1.
"Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia," said DEA administrator Leonhart. "Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border. The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization by capturing its leaders, strangling its distribution networks, and relentlessly pursuing its members and those who facilitate them."
"Through coordinated and strategic efforts like Project Delirium, we are disrupting the operations of Mexican drug cartels in the United States and Mexico," said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. "Today, we see drug traffickers operating in urban and rural communities alike. The arrests and seizures we are announcing today have stripped La Familia of its manpower, its deadly product and its profit, and helped make communities large and small safer. The department is determined to continue our aggressive efforts, along with our Mexican law enforcement partners, to diminish and ultimately eliminate the threat posed by these dangerous groups."
"Through the Secretariat of Public Security, the government of Mexico has seen increased results in their fight against the drug trafficking organizations," said Mexico's Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna. "Due to increased information sharing and collaboration with the DEA, these efforts have resulted in successful and significant arrests and seizures of drugs and money."
"Law enforcement officials here in the U.S., in Mexico and all around the world are cooperating at unprecedented levels. There is a willingness -- like never before -- to work hand-in-hand to fight the cartels, the criminal enterprises, and the violent gangs that threaten the peace and security of people on both sides of the border," said John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Project Delirium is the result of information gathered during the course of a previous effort targeting La Familia, known as Project Coronado, which culminated in 2009.
Charges against those arrested include:
- conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana
- distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana
- conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States
- money laundering; and other violations of federal law.
Numerous defendants face forfeiture allegations as well.
An armed robbery in South Austin set off a search for two men with guns early Friday morning.
A local road project more than two decades in the making won't save drivers as much time as many had hoped.
The University of Texas Board of Regents adjourned Thursday without taking action on the job status of embattled UT President Bill Powers.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Two men were arrested and a third was being sought by police for the shooting death of 47-year-old Russell Martens.
Parking arrangements are a bit different this year at Austin's Trail of Lights, but there are options to suit just about anybody.