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Police in Arizona arrest 20, dismantle drug trafficking cell of Sinaloa Cartel

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Sat July 7, 2012
Three tons of marijuana, fifty pounds of meth and over two million dollars are just some of the items confiscated during a drug cartel bust in Arizona.
Three tons of marijuana, fifty pounds of meth and over two million dollars are just some of the items confiscated during a drug cartel bust in Arizona.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Authorities in Tempe, Arizona, arrest 20 people associated with a Mexican drug cartel
  • Police seize three tons of marijuana and 30 pounds of methamphetamine
  • They also confiscate $2.4 million in cash, an airplane and 10 vehicles

(CNN) -- Authorities in Tempe, Arizona, dismantled a drug trafficking cell associated with Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, arresting 20 people and seizing three tons of marijuana, 30 pounds of methamphetamine and $2.4 million in cash, police said.

A six-month investigation by Tempe police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also concluded with the seizure of an airplane, 10 vehicles and 14 firearms, police said Friday.

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Changing face of drug cartels

The cartel delivered illegal drugs in Tempe and branched out to customers in New York, Alabama, California and other states, police said.

"This operation demonstrated a collaborative effort by state and federal law enforcement agencies," Tempe Chief of Police Tom Ryff said in a statement.

The drug trafficking "stretched across the Mexico border and into Arizona and beyond," said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA's Phoenix office.

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The Sinaloa Cartel is one of Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking groups, and cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera is widely known as Mexico's most-wanted fugitive. Forbes magazine has placed him on its list of the world's most powerful people, reporting his net worth at $1 billion as of March.

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