FBI's Operation Dead Hand lands 19 indictments in international drug bust involving cartels, mafia

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024
9 Southern Californians indicted as part of international drug ring
Of the 19 people indicted in "Operation Dead Hand," nine are Southern California residents alleged to be involved in illegal drug trafficking.

LOS ANGELES -- Federal authorities in Los Angeles on Tuesday announced a major blow against an international drug organization allegedly responsible for trafficking large quantities of narcotics through the United States and Canada.

Officials said two indictments unsealed in Los Angeles on Tuesday name 19 people now facing charges in connection with "Operation Dead Hand" - including nine Southern California residents.

Ten of those 19 have been arrested in recent days in cities that include Los Angeles, Sacramento, Miami, Odessa (Texas), Montreal, Toronto and Calgary.

The indictments say investigators seized drugs worth $16-28 million, including 845 kilograms of methamphetamine, 951 kilograms of cocaine, 20 kilograms of fentanyl and 4 kilograms of heroin. They also seized $900,000 in cash.

They noted that the quantities of those seizures only reflected operations during the few months of the investigation, indicating how active and large the network has been throughout its existence.

Authorities displayed some of the drugs, weapons and cash seized from a drug ring allegedly operating between Southern California and Canada.

The sophisticated operation involved Mexican cartels, an Italian mafia figure based in Montreal and a network of drivers employed by dozens of trucking companies, authorities say.

"This is a takedown of a wide ranging international drug trafficking conspiracy," said Martin Estrada, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. "This conspiracy spanned three countries that involve drug suppliers connected to cartels in Mexico, drug distributors and brokers in Los Angeles, Canadian truck drivers and a network that exported drugs into Canada and even an associate of the Italian mafia in Montreal, Canada."

The Southern California residents charged in the indictments include: Carlos Barragan, 51, of Long Beach; Corell Carbajal Garcia, 38, of Hemet; Esteban Sinhue Mercado, 24, of San Jacinto; Daniel Antonio Trejo Huerta, 43, of Riverside; Ignacio Lopez, 53, Santa Ana; Orlando Velasco Jr., 29, of Stanton; Angel Larry Sandoval, 32, of Bell Gardens; Jorge Pina Nicols, 22, of Long Beach; and Bryan Ureta Valenzuela, 24, of Ontario.