D.C. police, federal officials arrest 8 men with ties to La Familia drug cartel

By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 14, 2010; 8:08 PM

D.C. police and federal officials have arrested eight men with ties to Mexico's La Familia drug cartel who sought to set up operations in the Washington area, law enforcement officials said.

Authorities also have seized millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine as part of the investigation.

Undercover officers and agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested the men on federal conspiracy charges last week, and authorities are expected to make a formal announcement Wednesday. Investigators served search warrants in three states and arrested the men Friday in raids that seized several pounds of crystal meth and dozens of gallons of liquid meth, the sources said.

Authorities seized an estimated $5 million worth of crystal meth in the raids near Atlanta. Officials also recovered six pounds of marijuana, three guns and more than $15,000 in cash from raids in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina and in Temple Hills.

The investigation followed a purchase by a police informant and an undercover officer of a kilo of cocaine and five pounds of crystal meth in mid-November from a local trafficker in the D.C. area, the law enforcement officials said.

That led investigators to a larger deal two days later. They met with a suspected La Familia cartel leader in Winston-Salem to discuss the purchase of large quantities of crystal meth. That leader, identified by authorities as Alberto Garcia Calderon, told undercover officers that he had unlimited amounts of meth and would begin distribution in the Washington area, the officials said.

The officers and Calderon agreed to meet Dec. 8 near Atlanta. Two days later, undercover officers said they would pay the La Familia members more than $100,000 for 20 pounds of meth in Winston Salem. Instead, ICE agents arrested four men in North Carolina, and other agents simultaneously raided two drug houses in Atlanta.

Authorities arrested and charged eight men in U.S. District Court in Washington on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute crystal meth, the officials said.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company