Criminal Justice

'Project Reckoning' Drug Bust Tally: 500 Arrests, 16 Tons of Coke and $60M

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With the latest arrests of another 175 suspects, a U.S.-led bust of an alleged Mexican-based international drug ring has now reportedly netted more than 500 individuals.

“Project Reckoning” has also resulted in the seizure of some 16 tons of cocaine and $60 million in cash, announced U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey at a press conference in Atlanta today. The 15-month investigation focused on the so-called Gulf cartel, which authorities say heads the world’s predominant cocaine distribution ring, according to Bloomberg.

Many of the 175 arrests apparently were made in various locations in the United States; 43 suspects were taken into custody in the Atlanta area alone, according to Mukasey. However, Agence France-Presse quotes an Italian police investigator as saying that “More than 200 people were arrested early Wednesday, mainly in Mexico and Guatemala, but also in New York and Calabria” in Italy.

The arrests, which the French news agency says took place in Italy, the U.S. and Central and Latin America, included suspected members of Italy’s Ndrangheta mafia. “Fourteen of those held—eight in Italy and six in New York—are suspected of being the masterminds of the trafficking ring which operated between Latin America, the United States and Italy, as well as other European countries,” AFP writes.

The AFP article also says that suspected Ndrangheta leader Giuseppe Coluccio, 41, who was among the 30 most wanted individuals in Italy, was arrested in Canada last month in connection with the investigation.

“The Drug Enforcement Agency led the operation in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, including Italy’s Carabinieri police,” states Bloomberg.

Additional coverage:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Cracking the cartel: 43 arrested in huge drug ring”

Dallas Morning News: “Massive U.S. drug bust of Gulf cartel includes North Texas arrests”

Reuters: “U.S. hits Mexican drug cartel with big raid”

PR Newswire (press release): “Remarks as Delivered by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey Announcing the Results of Project Reckoning”

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