By SUZANNE GAMBOA
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON- Drug enforcement agents have arrested some 160 people in four U.S. cities and two countries and have broken up three major drug transportation rings with international ties in a 10-month drug-trafficking sting revealed Friday.The Drug Enforcement Administration said the people arrested were involved in 27 U.S. distribution groups that have moved enough methamphetamine into the United States to have provided the drug to more than 22,700 users a month.
Arrests in the sting _ dubbed Operation Three Hour Tour by the Drug Enforcement Administration _ were made Thursday in Los Angeles, New York, New Haven, Conn., Des Moines, Iowa, the Dominican Republican and Colombia. Other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies also participated in the sting. More arrests could occur, the DEA said.
"The streets from Bogota to Los Angeles are no longer a free trade zone for the criminals arrested today," DEA Administrator Karen Tandy said in a statement. "Rest assured: The DEA will be relentless in targeting drug traffickers and their illicit money until they no longer have the assets or means to put their poisons into the hands of our children."
The three Mexican and Colombian drug transportation organizations and their U.S. counterparts smuggled and distributed 4,000 pounds of cocaine, 20 to 30 pounds of heroin and more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine monthly throughout this country, the DEA said.
The agency calculates that 545 grams of methamphetamine produced one pound of product and a single gram is enough for one hit. The DEA said those figures are on the high end of methamphetamine use.
Along with the arrests, officers seized 52 firearms, including a .50-caliber assault rifle with armor piercing ammunition, confiscated 10,000 doses of Ecstasy, 58 vehicles, 216 pounds of marijuana and $5.5 million in cash.
The announcement of the arrests came a day after the Bush administration announced new efforts to battle methamphetamine abuse, including a training laboratory for police agencies and $16.2 million in grants to focus on treatment of addicts.