Staff and wire reports
Two men arrested Wednesday in Tucumcari on federal drug trafficking charges are believed to be connected to Mexican drug cartels, according to New Mexico State Police.
Based on a tip from federal authorities, state police located Camilo Sport and Asunsio Martinez at an undisclosed location in Tucumcari just before 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, Lt. Eric Garcia said Thursday.
They were traveling along I-40 and had stopped briefly in Tucumcari at the time of their capture, he said, explaining they had no known connection to Tucumcari or other purpose for being there.
Sport, 41, — a federal absconder — and Martinez, 21, were arrested without incident.
Garcia said both are considered linked to the Mexican drug cartel, however it is uncertain if they are linked to the La Familia cartel, the subject of numerous drug raids nationwide Wednesday.
“There’s been no direct link that I’m aware of to the La Familia cartel,” he said, however he said a federal investigation is ongoing.
Sport and Martinez are expected to be extradited to Georgia.
More than 300 suspects have been arrested in a series of drug raids across the country that law enforcement officials say is the largest single strike at a Mexican drug cartel operating in the United States.
The arrests are aimed at the U.S. operations of the La Familia cartel, two officials said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the results of the operation.
Over the past two days, more than 3,000 federal agents and police officers carried out arrests in more than a dozen states as part of a long-running anti-drug operation that has netted nearly 1,200 arrests over almost four years.
In the latest legal assault on La Familia, a New York grand jury has indicted an alleged cartel leader, Servando Gomez-Martinez. He is linked to one of the more brazen acts of cartel violence in Mexico.
In July, after a dozen Mexican law enforcement officers were found killed, officials say Gomez-Martinez publicly announced his membership in La Familia and said the cartel was locked in a battle with Mexican police.
Federal law enforcement officials, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, plan to announce the latest results of the operation against the cartels on Thursday. The suspects face a combination of federal and state charges.
Many of the charges are centered on the cartel’s operations pumping large quantities of methamphetamine into the United States, and other drug distribution charges involve cocaine and marijuana, the officials said.
Project Coronado has targeted La Familia, a drug-trafficking cartel based in the state of Michoacan in southwestern Mexico.
The cartel claims it opposes the sale of meth to Mexicans, but supports its consumption by Americans.
The officials said states where arrests were made or charges filed include California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington state.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report