Baja detains members of La Familia cell

Five men were allegedly distributing meth

TIJUANA – In a special operation, state authorities arrested five members of the criminal organization La Familia Michoacana who had ammunition for AK-47s, cash and methamphetamine valued at $640,000.

According to authorities, La Familia, one of Mexico's most violent drug syndicates, has paid "a user's fee" to the Arellano Félix cartel for three years to be able to operate on the border. During that time, police agencies and the military have discovered clandestine laboratories belonging to this group in Tijuana.

State police said that in a series of arrests, which occurred Thursday, its agents seized 16 pounds of crystal meth, 620 7.62 x 39 mm rounds, $1,700 in U.S. currency, 12,990 in Mexican pesos and three vehicles. The meth had an estimated street value of $640,000.

The State Preventive Police called the operation a significant blow to the La Familia criminal organization in Tijuana and was the result of an investigation and information the department received during the series of arrests.

The first occurred in the Sepanal neighborhood, in the city's eastside, where authorities arrested Ernesto Blanco García, 54, from Michocán.

Blanco García allegedly had eight packages containing crystal meth in his car, as well as $1,000.

State police agents continued the operation and drove to another east-side neighborhood, La Pechuga, where they arrested two more suspects, identified as Jesús José Chávez Gándara, 36, from Colima, and Luis Lobato Ortega, 33, from Michoacán. Chávez Gándara allegedly was carrying 6,990 pesos (about $542).

The agents found eight packages of crystal meth, as well as 31 small boxes, each one with 20 rounds of 7.62 x 39 mm, for a total of 620 rounds for AK-47s, the state police agency said.

The agents then went to the Ruiz Cortínez neighborhood, where they arrested Jesús de García Pino, 35, and Orlando de la Rosa Navarro, 59, both from Michoacán. The men were allegedly also carrying crystal meth and had $700 in U.S. currency and 6,000 pesos.

According to state police, the drug the cell was distributing was flown from Mexico's interior to Tijuana's airport, where the men who were arrested allegedly picked it up and took it across the city.


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