International Drug Ring Busted In Los Angeles: DOJ

LOS ANGELES, CA — An organized crime ring smuggled drugs across two borders from Mexico into Los Angeles County and into Canada via long-haul trucks, federal authorities announced Tuesday along with the indictments of nine Southern California men in connection with the operation.

Southern California was a key part of the pipeline that funneled drugs throughout the country and into Canada, according to federal investigators and local authorities. According to police, the operation moved about 1,860 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,092 pounds of cocaine, 44 pounds of fentanyl and nearly nine pounds of heroin with an estimated total wholesale value of between $16 million and $28 million.

Two federal grand jury indictments unsealed Tuesday were part of a years-long investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, authorities announced at a press conference in Westwood Tuesday. Along with the nine Southern California defendants are numerous Canadian and Mexican suspects. According to investigators, their roles range from truck drivers to international drug kingpins with organized crime connections.

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Among those arrested was Robert Scoppa, an alleged Canadian drug trafficker with “close ties to an Italian organized crime family in Montreal,” and Jesus Ruiz Sandoval Jr., a fugitive believed to be a large-scale drug trafficker involved in importing drugs from Mexico into the United States, according to prosecutors.

“Today is an example of society pushing back,” said Donald Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

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In addition to the drugs, almost $1 million in cash was seized during the investigation.

According to investigators, the drugs were loaded onto long- haul semi-trucks driven from Los Angeles to Canada via the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the Buffalo Peace Bridge, and the Blue Water Bridge, investigators said.

“Today, organized crime knows no boundaries,” said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore. “It is through the international cooperation between LAPD, the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others that we were able to apprehend and charge multiple individuals who have imported significant amounts of drugs into this country.

Southern California defendants charged in the indictments are:

The charges include drug trafficking and drug exportation conspiracies and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. If convicted, each would 40 years to life in federal prison, according to the Justice Department.

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