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Ariz. police, DEA bust 'extensive' drug-trafficking ring

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:57 PM EST, Tue December 20, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Authorities seize $7.8 in cash and make more than 200 arrests
  • They also recover 650 pounds of marijuana and 435 pounds of methamphetamine
  • The 15-month investigation was dubbed "Operation Crank Call"

(CNN) -- Authorities in Arizona said Tuesday they seized 44 firearms, 650 pounds of marijuana, 435 pounds of methamphetamine and $7.8 million in cash as part of a sting operation that successfully dismantled an "extensive" drug-trafficking ring.

The operation, dubbed "Operation Crank Call," also resulted in more than 200 arrests and the recovery of 123 pounds of cocaine and 4.5 pounds of heroin, Tempe, Arizona, police said in a statement. They worked with detectives from the Phoenix Drug Enforcement Administration during the 15-month investigation, at least a part of which was conducted undercover.

"The success of this operation is a direct result of Law Enforcement agencies working cooperatively toward a common goal. That goal is to rid our communities of organized crime," Tempe Chief of Police Tom Ryff said in the statement.

"These are sophisticated, criminal enterprises. As Chief of Police, I am committed to working in partnership with the community and other law enforcement agencies to curtail drug trafficking in the City of Tempe and throughout the valley," he added.

Police said the dismantled trafficking ring was linked to the much-feared Sinaloa cartel, which has been blamed for widespread acts of violence across the border in Mexico.

In October, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that at least 70 suspected drug smugglers with alleged ties to the Sinaloa cartel had been arrested.

More than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were involved in that 17-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Pipeline Express."

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