The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced Wednesday that more than 600 suspected cartel members had been arrested in what The Hill called “an interagency operation cracking down on Mexican [drug] cartel activity.”
Dubbed “Project Python,” the operation netted “more than 600 arrests, 350 indictments, as well as significant seizures of money and drugs,” according to a statement from the DOJ.
According to the DOJ’s statement, the operation specifically targeted the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), a notoriously brutal drug trafficking organization based in the Mexican state of Jalisco that is said to be responsible for torture and frequent massacres.
“Project Python marks the most comprehensive action to date in the Department of Justice’s campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy CJNG,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said, noting that the cartel has been deemed “one of the highest-priority transnational organized crime threats we face.”
“With Project Python, we are delivering results in the face of that threat for the American people,” Benczkowski added.
Benczkowski went on to recall the impetus for Project Python: an executive order signed by President Trump shortly after he took office in 2017.
“When President Trump signed an Executive Order prioritizing the dismantlement of transnational criminal organizations, the Department of Justice answered the call and took direct aim at CJNG,” the assistant attorney general explained.
But DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, who was also quoted in the DOJ’s statement, promised that Project Python is “is just the beginning.”
“This strategic and coordinated project exemplifies DEA’s mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug trafficking organizations around the world and bring their leaders to justice,” Dhillon said. “Today, DEA has disrupted CJNG’s operations, and there is more to come as DEA continues its relentless attack on this remorseless criminal organization.”
The Hill reported Wednesday that CJNG is “active in major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta.” In its statement, the DOJ called the group “one of the fastest-growing transnational criminal organizations in Mexico.”
CJNG is also “among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world,” according to the DOJ.
“It is responsible for a significant proportion of drugs entering the United States, and elevated levels of violence in Mexico,” the department’s statement noted. “With methamphetamine abuse and overdose deaths on the rise, Project Python aims to disrupt CJNG’s ability to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs throughout the United States by attacking the group at all levels.”
It seems the crackdown has only just begun.