Iraqi-Mexican Drug Ring Busted in El Cajon, CA

Last Thursday, federal authorities released the details of “Operation Shadowbox,” a multi-agency sting operation targeting an Iraqi immigrant community social club in the quaint city of El Cajon, near San Diego. 

The club functioned as the central hub for drug and weapons trafficking between its members, an infamous Mexican drug cartel known as the Sinaloa Cartel, and a Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate operating out of Detroit. 

Authorities arrested at least 60 individuals as a result of the investigation; the majority of the individuals apprehended were part of the Chaldean community – an Iraqi Christian community comprised of people who fled Iraq to evade religious persecution – and will face numerous state and federal charges (some of those charges carry minimum sentencing of 20 years).  And several of the suspects were illegal immigrants who were brought into the states with the assistance of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In addition to the arrests, authorities seized between 13-18 pounds of methamphetamine, 3,500 pounds of marijuana, 4 pounds of ecstasy, $630,000 in cash, four IEDs, and more than 30 firearms according to El Cajon Police Chief Pat Sprecco.  

The social club was long known for its nefarious activity. 

“We have been trying to deal with it for years,” Chief Sprecco told reporters, “and this has just been the first significant success.”  He added, “Having these criminals in prison will have a level of impact on El Cajon and the level of crime in our city.”

The investigation is still underway as authorities look to find substantial evidence linking the gun trafficking and weapons trafficking back to the kingpins of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Chaldean mafia in Detroit. 

“We hope we’ve made a dent in it, but I’m not naive enough to believe the problem’s going to go away,” Sprecco told reporters.  “We have several people still outstanding, we plan to find and arrest them as a result of this investigation.”

Authorities said that the confiscated weapons and explosives were not intended to be used for terrorist activities; rather they were to be sold to local drug dealers and enforcers. 

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