DEA announces 200 pounds of meth, 50k fentanyl pills and 20+ pounds of heroin seized

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Iowa (KWQC) - Twenty-one people are facing a combined 200 plus years in prison after authorities in Iowa seized more than $2 million worth of drugs in a two-year long, multi-state investigation.

Agents in Iowa have seized over 200 pounds of methamphetamine, 50,000 fentanyl pills and over 22 pounds of heroin. This is estimated to be worth more than $2 million. In addition, officials say approximately $425,000 in drug proceeds and assets were seized during a two-year period. (MGN)

Agents seized over 200 pounds of methamphetamine, 50,000 fentanyl pills and over 22 pounds of heroin. This is estimated to be worth more than $2 million. In addition, officials say approximately $425,000 in drug proceeds and assets were seized during a two-year period.

Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Des Moines Resident Office partnered with the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, United States Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations to take down 21 people who they say were high-ranking members of the Jesse Sanchez Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO). Officials say this is based out of southern California and sourced by the Sinaloa Cartel.

"This complex, multi-jurisdictional investigation involved hundreds of man hours and had organizational ties to multiple federal and state investigations," DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in charge Richard Salter Jr., said. "This case is yet another outstanding example of DEA's networking capabilities with local, state and federal law enforcement partners throughout the U.S."

What was called "Operation Despacito", began in 2017 as investigators tracked the Iowa-based distribution cell that was known for methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and cocaine trafficking according to officials.

Through an investigation, officials were able to identify a network that utilized subterranean tunnels, passenger vehicles and the U.S. Postal Service to smuggle and transport thousands of pounds of illegal drugs into and throughout the U.S. Officials say traffickers routed the drugs to Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and North Carolina.

Information obtained from cooperating sources and co-conspirators contributed to the Office of Foreign Assets Control process for sanctions on three Mexico-based, Sinaloa Cartel Kingpins in accordance with the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

The Kingpin Act denies significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses and their operatives, access to the U.S. financial system, and all trade and transactions involving U.S. companies and individuals.

A U.S. attorney of the Southern District of Iowa indicated that on January 14, the last defendants of the conspiracy were identified.

Officials say 21 people received combined sentences totaling 218 years in federal prison. Of the 21 people, nine multi-pound methamphetamine suppliers are residents of Iowa, while nine California residents supplied the drugs to Iowa. Three con-conspirators are from Nevada.