By CBSLA Staff

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Seven men were arrested this week as part of a major DEA operation to shut down meth trafficking throughout the country.

“Operation Crystal Shield” was launched in March of last year to crack down on eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs that the DEA says accounted for more than 75% of the methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019. The operations in Riverside and Los Angeles counties are believed to be linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and involved in the transportation and delivery of large quantities of crystal methamphetamine.

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(credit: DEA)

The investigation identified Southern California-based narcotics courier/stash house managers, plus several locations associated with the courier and drug trafficking organization, according to the DEA. The men arrested Wednesday faces a litany of drug trafficking charges.

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During Wednesday’s raid, federal agents also seized 3 pounds of methamphetamine, a kilogram of heroin, 2 kilograms of cocaine, a handgun, and about $50,000 in cash.

The DEA says virtually all methamphetamine in U.S. is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways and is often found alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. Methamphetamine seizures have been on the rise, with the DEA collecting more than 6,000 kilograms in 2019, a 120% jump from the previous year.

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Since the investigation was launched, federal agents have seized 3,555 pounds of methamphetamine; 2,118 kilograms of cocaine, 69 kilograms of heroin, and more than $20 million in drug proceeds, DEA officials said.