Mississippians arrested in Mexican drug cartel sting

By WLOX Staff

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Seven men in South Mississippi are among 303 people arrested in a nationwide drug sting targeting suspected dealers with connections to Mexican drug cartels.

U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said at a news conference Thursday that the arrests in "Project Coronado" over the past two days were aimed at the U.S. operations of the La Familia cartel. Holder said La Familia is the newest and most violent of Mexico's five drug cartels. Arrests were made in 19 states.

A seven count federal indictment unsealed Thursday names six Mississippians: Richard North, Jerry Primer, Kenneth Lofton, Adrian Studaway, Nicholas L. Coleman, Larry Kelly, Sederick Ledbetter. All face charges of possession with the intent to distribute various types of cocaine.

More than 3,000 federal agents and police officers made the arrests in more than a dozen states. The raids are part of a long-running anti-drug operation that has led to nearly 1,200 arrests over almost four years.

During the two-day operation alone, $3.4 million in U.S. currency, 729 pounds of methamphetamine, 62 kilograms of cocaine, 967 pounds of marijuana, 144 weapons and 109 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.

"This unprecedented, coordinated U.S. law enforcement action - the largest ever undertaken against a Mexican drug cartel - has dealt a significant blow to La Familia's supply chain of illegal drugs, weapons and cash flowing between Mexico and the United States," said Attorney General Holder.

A New York grand jury has indicted alleged cartel leader Servando Gomez-Martinez.

"We will not allow these cartels to operate unfettered in our country, and with the increases in cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities in recent years, we are taking the fight to our adversaries," said Attorney General Holder. "We will continue to stand strong with our partners in Mexico as we work to disrupt and dismantle cartel operations on both sides of the border."

To read the "Project Coronado" news release from the U.S. Attorney General, click HERE.

To read the federal indictment against seven Mississippi suspects, click HERE.

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