14 Busted In Whittier-Based Methamphetamine Ring

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A probe into a Whittier-area methamphetamine distribution ring led to the arrests Thursday of more than a dozen alleged cartel members or associates.

Indictments filed in Los Angeles federal court name 44 defendants, including the 14 arrested today and five already in custody, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Family Reunion, targeted the familial Whittier-based Sendis drug trafficking organization, as well as the ring’s Mexican suppliers.

“Today’s arrests are welcome news for Southern California residents who want dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine out of our neighborhoods,” said Timothy J. Landrum, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Division.

The indictment unsealed Thursday is the third in a series that focuses on the Sendis organization. During the course of the investigation — which started in 2006 and has now resulted in three indictments naming a total of 59 defendants — federal agents have seized more than 225 pounds of nearly pure meth, more than 400 kilos of cocaine, and more than $4.6 million in cash, officials said.

Two leaders of the Sendis organization — Nicholas and Jennifer Sendis — were arrested in 2008, during the first wave of arrests, and subsequently convicted, federal authorities said.

Nicholas’ siblings Rogelio Sendis, Salvador Sendis and Angelita Sendis took over the group’s activities after he was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison, the DEA said.

Because the just-concluded probe anticipated reuniting the three Sendises arrested today with their brother already in federal custody, the DEA gave its investigation the “family reunion” name.

A second superseding indictment unsealed today also charges several Mexico-based meth suppliers, including Jose Felix-Barraza, who is at large.

The indictment alleges that Felix-Barraza supplied drugs to the Sendis organization, as well as other customers throughout the Southwest United States.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)



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