Mexican drug cartel-related bust in Merced County

FRESNO, Calif.

State and local agents seized 17 fire arms, including three assault rifles in a raid last month that sent two-dozen cartel associates to jail.

"Also seized in the series of raids last month were 10 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 14 pounds of methamphetamine in powder form, 30 gallons of methamphetamine solution," said Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse.

The Merced County District Attorney along with other Valley law enforcement agencies announced the seizure at a press conference on Monday. 24 members of the La Familia drug cartel drug cartel where taken into custody in November after being connected to drug trafficking.

"They're being charged with manufacturing, the distribution of methamphetamine, child endangerment, and weapons allegations," said Merced County District Attorney Michael Keitz.

The La Familia is a violent Mexican drug cartel that has been linked to kidnapping and other drug crimes south of the border.

"They are using new ways to transport money back into Mexico. They're deploying new techniques using the Internet that they've never done in the past," said Dean Johanston with the Bureau of Narcotics.

Four sophisticated vehicles with hidden compartments to store drugs and money where also seized in the operation.

The investigation was launched in August with the help of the Bureau of Narcotics.

Officials say budget constrains may curtail their efforts to prevent drug trafficking in the Valley.

"We are all very concerned that if these cuts come to pass, the Central Valley could very likely be dealing with some of the same violence and kidnappings that are plaguing Mexico today", said Morse.

Officials say 70 percent of Valley crime is related to drug violence.

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