• Ciro

51 arrested, $4 million seized in So. Cal drug operations

An Inland Southern California-based task force made 51 arrests and seized $4 million in the past two months, partly because drug-dealers nationwide traveled here when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered their usual money-laundering sources, authorities said.

With no access to the businesses they normally used to conceal their illegal transactions, drug trafficking organizations from Washington, Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Maine came with cash in hand to California to purchase their contraband, the California Department of Justice said.

The Inland Crackdown Allied (INCA) Task Force “has seen a significant increase in out-of-state major narcotics traffickers traveling to California to obtain narcotics to be distributed throughout the United States,” since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the office said in a Friday, July 10 news release.

During the past two months the INCA task force conducted 17 undercover operations, resulting in the arrests and cash seizures. The arrests were on suspicion of money laundering associated with drug trafficking, the office said.

INCA was formed in 1991. Participating local law enforcement includes the Rialto and Riverside police departments and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

“Not surprisingly, not even a COVID-19 pandemic triggers the ‘pause’ button for those willing to traffic in drugs,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra said of the arrests and money seizures.