U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Timothy J. Shea, acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced Thursday the outcome of an operation that dealt a “severe blow” to the main drug distribution centers of the Mexican cartels in the country, with the arrest of 1,840 individuals and the seizure of more than 12,955 kilos of methamphetamines.

Officials announced the result of the first six months of operation “Crystal Shield”, which has also meant the seizure of 284 firearms and 43.3 million dollars from drug trafficking.

The main targets of the operation were the Sinaloa Cartel and the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.

“Methamphetamine is a brutal drug linked to violent crime and responsible for far too many overdose deaths,” Barr said during a press conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where the operation was announced.

The operation began last February and focused on nine cities identified as distribution “centers” for the cartels, including Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California; and St. Louis, Missouri.

According to the federal government, 75% of all methamphetamines seized by the DEA in 2019 were confiscated in these cities.

“This problem will not be solved until it is solved in Mexico as well,” Barr said, and said he is working closely with the Mexican government, including the possible extradition of cartel leaders for prosecution in the United States.

The main objective of “Crystal Shield” was to focus on methamphetamine distribution centers in the United States.

Officials said they were pleased with the results despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the implementation of this operation.

Barr said that one of the tools being used by drug traffickers is the use of applications such as WhatsApp to run their operations.

As part of the operation in Arizona alone, 1,769 kilograms of methamphetamines were seized, equivalent to 8.8 million doses.

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