DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced the results of “Project Below the Beltway” – a two-year series of investigations targeting the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels and violent street gangs as part of an on-going initiative against the cartels and their distribution network in America.
The series of federal, state and local investigations began in May 2010 and culminated on Dec. 6, 2012.
“Project Below the Beltway” is comprised of investigations in 79 U.S. cities and several foreign cities within Central America, Europe, Mexico, South America and elsewhere, this initiative has resulted in 3,780 arrests, and the seizure of 6,100 kilograms of cocaine, 10,284 pounds methamphetamine, 1,619 pounds of heroin, 349,304 pounds of marijuana, $148 million dollars in U.S. currency and $38 million dollars in other assets to date.
IRS Chief Richard Weber, Criminal Investigations
In addition to the federal investigations, “Project Below the Beltway” also consisted of numerous state and local investigations that targeted the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels and associated drug trafficking organizations. The Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels are responsible for bringing multi-ton quantities of narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States.
These cartels are also believed to be responsible for laundering millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from illegal drug trafficking activities. Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: various felony provisions of the Controlled Substances Act; conspiracy to import controlled substances; money laundering; firearms violations and other related offenses. Multiple U.S. Judicial Districts were part of Project Below the Beltway.
“We’ve orchestrated a sustained wave of coordinated, aggressive enforcement actions to weaken these cartels and their violent gang associates,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said. “These international organized crime regimes operate without borders and our ongoing investigations in the U.S. and overseas will continue to target its members wherever they operate. Project Below the Beltway would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our local, federal and international partners.”
The DEA Special Operations Division (SOD) coordinated Project Below The Beltway and the efforts of the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Customs and Border Protection, United States Marshals Service, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, and numerous state and local law enforcement entities.
“IRS Criminal Investigation has been involved in combating drug-related crimes for some time,” IRS chief Richard Weber said. “We play a unique role in federal law enforcement’s counter-drug effort, in that we target the profit and financial gains of narcotics traffickers. And we will continue to investigate them by pursuing sophisticated, income tax, currency, and money laundering charges against these criminals.”
SOD is a DEA led, multi-agency, operational coordination center whose mission is to establish seamless law enforcement strategies and operations aimed at dismantling national and international trafficking organizations by attacking their command and control communications.