Photo: Illegal firearms recovered from an Iraqi club with ties to Mexican cartels
An investigation into an Iraqi social club in California has uncovered evidence leading law enforcement officials to believe Iraqis are working with one of Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels.
Over the last 10 years the Southern California Iraqi social club in El Cajon with ties to the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate has been investigated various times for being involved in drug sales, gambling, car theft, and gun smuggling.
In 2010, police began looking into the increase in drug trafficking and violent crime throughout El Cajon. Much of this crime was attributed to Iraqi organized crime elements, which was recently discovered to be involved with the Mexican mafia, as well as the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The club at 811 E. Main Street was identified as the hub of criminal activity by the Iraqi organized crime unit in El Cajon. Police say the crimes that occurred there included attempted murder, methamphetamine and marijuana sales, sale of diverted pharmaceuticals, gambling, resisting arrest, illegal liquor sales, and illegal sales of firearms.
The investigation, known as Operation Shadowbox began in January 2011 and has undercover officers buying large amounts of narcotics, pharmaceuticals, firearms, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from those at the club.
As a result of the investigation, 60 arrests have been made, and polce seized 13 pounds of methamphetamine; over 4 pounds of MDMA (ecstasy) and pharmaceuticals including Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine, Xanex, and Percocet, one pound of cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, and over 3,500 pounds of marijuana. Additional seizures include over $630,000 in US currency, 3 luxury cars, and the seizure of 34 firearms including semi-automatic assault rifles and several fully automatic firearms, and 4 IEDs, said the El Cajon Police Department.
Many of those arrested have lengthy criminal records, and as the investigation continues, police anticipate more arrests and seizures will be made.
Since 2006, when Mexico’s President Calderon began his war on drugs, nearly 40,000 people in Mexico have been killed by cartels or cartel-related violence.