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Nationwide Sweep Captures 303 Offenders Associated with Drug Cartel

According to a report in the San Diego 6 News, court appearances were made Friday by three of 13 people recently arrested in San Diego County. The arrests were made in a nationwide sweep put in place to target a fast-rising Mexican drug cartel building a reputation of violence, messianic culture and control of the methamphetamine trade.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration launched the sweep, which resulted in the arrest of 303 people in connection with the La Familia drug cartel. Those arrested in the sweep face charges that range from drug and gun trafficking to money laundering.

"Angel was a puppet master who arranged the deals through telephone conversations," Deputy District Attorney Carlos Campbell alleged, referencing one defendant facilitator, Angel Quintero Castillo.

The defendant is charged with conspiring to transport methamphetamine, including 2.2 pounds last month. Castillo faces three years and eight months in prison if convicted.

Darice Orozco pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine for sale, transporting the drug in mid-August, conspiracies to the first two charges, and three counts of child endangerment.

Margarito Ontiveros, the third defendant, pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine for sale. Ontiveros could face three years in prison if convicted. Authorities note that most or all of the local prosecutions should take place in the state court system. More arraignments are scheduled for Monday.

According to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, more than 3,000 federal, state and local agents participated in the nationwide sweep, turning it into the largest ever mounted attack against the Mexican cartel this side of the border.

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