Police officers near San Diego, California, on Thursday nabbed more than 50 members of an Iraqi gang of drug traffickers who were operating out of a social club in El Cajon, CA.
The El Cajon Police Department on Friday announced their apprehension of dozens of alleged drug traffickers, linked to an Iraqi-American gang. The police dragnet, dubbed "Operation Shadowbox," targeted the Iraqi social club in the southern California town.
Many of the suspects fled their homeland after being threatened by al-Qaeda and other extremists, and some are suspected of being affiliated with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, an Iraqi gang based in Detroit, home to the nation's largest Chaldean community.
Police were tipped off by the social club's neighbors and some of the club members' spouses became informants about the Iraqis' criminal activity.
After years of investigation, police raided the social club and during the arrest and subsequent search discovered evidence of "attempted murder, methamphetamine and marijuana sales, sale of diverted pharmaceuticals, gambling, illegal liquor sales, and illegal sales of firearms."
Local police officers and special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administrations Mobile Enforcement Team (DEA/MET) also uncovered evidence linking the Iraqi gang members' activities to the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel as well as Iraqi gangs in Detroit, Michigan.
The Sinaloa Cartel is bloodier and more powerful that most of the drug gangs in the U.S. It controls cocaine trafficking on the Mexican border with California, and is expanding eastward to the corridor between Sonora and Arizona and waging a fierce battle for Chihuahua state bordering Texas.
During the the social club raid police officers and DEA agents discovered more than $630,000 in U.S. currency, street narcotics and prescription controlled substances including Mexican-made methamphetamine, MDMA, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine, Xanex, and Percocet, cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana, firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
According to a statement by El Cajon's Police Chief Pat Sprecco, "Several identified subjects in this investigation have lengthy criminal histories including controlled substance possession and distribution, grand theft auto, burglary, resisting arrest, possession of dangerous weapons and battery. As the investigation continues, additional members of the Iraqi [drug trafficking organization] are expected to be identified and arrested."
During the last 20 years, Mexican immigrant smugglers helped many of the Chaldeans reach the United States. The descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia -- what is now Iraq -- came to the West to escape Muslim persecution of Christian Iraqis.
About half of the suspects face federal charges and the other half face California state charges. A number of them are illegal immigrants but federal immigration agents would not say whether or not the illegal alien Iragis will be deported.
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.