A methamphetamine organization that reached from Mexico to central Nebraska has been dismantled, United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced Tuesday.The widespread law enforcement investigation identified and then dismantled an organization that brought meth from Mexico through Arizona, Colorado, and eventually into Nebraska, Gilg said.
Investigators discovered the money from narcotics sales was transferred back to Mexico by wire or personal couriers.
This investigation began as a joint effort of local agencies with the FBI, through their office in North Platte, Gilg said.
Members of cooperating drug enforcement (CODE) agencies in central Nebraska and the western Nebraska intelligence and narcotics group (WING) task force went undercover to purchase methamphetamine from an individual in the Ogallala area in late 2012 and early 2013.
CODE and WING task force members utilized undercover agents and officers to make purchases, conduct surveillance, execute search warrants and make arrests.
Undercover investigators made approximately 29 narcotics buys of methamphetamine.
Initially, the undercover agents bought gram-quantities of meth, but amounts increased over time. Gilg said 18 of the buys were of 1 ounce quantities or more.
In all, the controlled drug buys recovered nearly 23 ounces of methamphetamine.
Seventeen people were arrested.
Gilg said the distribution organization brought pound-quantities of meth into the Julesburg and Sterling area and then spanned a larger area of operation from Sterling to Lexington -- a distance of approximately 200 miles.
Before the investigation was over, 33 law enforcement organizations were involved in Nebraska and Colorado.
In addition to the law enforcement agencies in the Nebraska task forces, officers cooperated across federal judicial districts, Gilg said.
She said the investigation overcame legal hurdles of crossing jurisdictions.
Gilg credited the Assistant United States Attorney, who worked with the investigative task force at all hours of the day, seven days a week, coordinating activities.
“The outstanding cooperative efforts in this case were remarkable and necessary in order to achieve the undoing of this distribution network over such a vast geographic area,” Gilg said. “It is a tribute to the cooperation and coordination of efforts we have in the heartland of America.”
Members of the CODE and WING drug task forces received a regional High Intensity Drug Trafficking award for their work.