The Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) recently revealed that 22 Arizonans have been indicted for drug-related charges following a multi-year investigation of a South Phoenix criminal street gang.
“According to the criminal complaints filed last week, in January 2020, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) began an investigation targeting a drug and firearms supplier in South Phoenix. In February 2021, in conjunction with the DPS investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Violent Street Gang Task Force began investigating the Lindo Park Crips (LPC), a criminal street gang operating in South Phoenix,” according to a press release from the USAO.
The release outlined that DPS and FBI investigators targeted LPC members and drug suppliers, ultimately leading to a major bust. Investigators reportedly found over 2,000 grams of cocaine, 35,000 counterfeit pills suspected to contain fentanyl, 26 grams of methamphetamine, four and a half grams of crack, 32 doses of MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy or XTC), and weapons, including 17 firearms and eight Glock conversion devices.
All 22 defendants are charged with either conspiracy to distribute cocaine or fentanyl, and some are charged with actual possession of the drugs. Furthermore, several are charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm in relation to drug trafficking.
According to the release, these charges incur heavy fines and jail time if convicted. For the drug charges, a conviction for conspiracy to distribute or intent to sell the amount of cocaine charged in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine, while a conviction for the amount of fentanyl can be up to life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine. Moreover, a conviction for illegally possessing a firearm carries jail time up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine.
Most of the 22 individuals come from Phoenix, but others hail from cities across Arizona, including Avondale, Florence, Buckeye, and Goodyear. The youngest defendant is Jesus Salazar, 24, of Avondale, while the eldest is 62-year-old Terry Lee King of Phoenix.
The USAO stated that this case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCFETF) operation which seeks to dismantle the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States.
All defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
22 Arizonans indicted after Phoenix-area takedown connected to drug trafficking & firearms offenses. Our thanks to @FBIPhoenix, @PhoenixPolice, @Arizona_DPS for their tireless work, and to @ATFPhoenix, @DEAPHOENIXDiv, @HSIPhoenix, & @USMarshalsHQ. https://t.co/IqQCgyNloh
— US Attorney Arizona (@USAO_AZ) June 29, 2022
As The Arizona Sun Times reported, Border Patrol agents recently seized 4.2 kilograms of fentanyl and 2.1 kilograms of heroin at a highway checkpoint at the El Centro Station. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBS) said the drugs confiscated had an estimated street value of $190,000. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that as little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on the person’s tolerance. Based on that statistic, this bust alone involved enough fentanyl to kill over 2 million people.
According to statistics from CBS, 3,513.15 kilograms of illicit fentanyl were confiscated in May, which would hypothetically be enough to kill 1,756,575,000 people under the DEA’s metric.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Phoenix Police Department” by Phoenix Police Department.