Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Mexico authorities seize 105 tons of marijuana destined for the U.S.

October 18, 2010 |  7:50 pm

Baja California authorities seized 105 tons of marijuana Monday morning in what is believed to be one of the largest drug busts in recent Mexican history, according to Mexican authorities and media reports.

Some 10,000 packages of marijuana were hidden in six cargo containers stored in a warehouse in an industrial part of Tijuana. The marijuana was discovered after police on routine patrol intercepted a convoy of vehicles escorting a tractor-trailer that had left the warehouse, officials said.

After a shootout, 11 people were arrested. Police and soldiers, acting on information from the suspects, raided the warehouse and two homes near the coast, where smaller amounts of marijuana were found.

The neatly packaged cannabis — guarded by masked, heavily armed soldiers — was later displayed for the media at Morelos Army Base in Tijuana. Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica, the military’s top commander in Baja California, said the drugs had an estimated street value of 4.2 billion pesos, or about $340 million.

The marijuana was destined for the U.S., he said.

The seizure is the latest blow against organized crime groups operating in Baja California, a major staging ground for drug smuggling into California. In April, the military seized 19 tons of pot in a Tijuana warehouse. Security forces have also arrested many major drug cartel figures and significantly reduced the kind of high-impact, gang-war violence that afflicts other border cities.

“With these results, it is evidence once again that the strategy … continues striking the operations and financial structure of the organized crime groups,” said a statement released by the the Mexican military.

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego