"This is the latest in a yearlong case we've been working, targeting the Sinaloa Cartel through its distribution cells in California and Utah," Thomas said. "We've had some massive meth seizures, but it speaks to the challenge we face: You take one down and another just pops up."
Nonetheless, DEA is determined to stem the flow of the drug into Utah. "Our message to the cartel," Thomas said, "is that we're going to keep hammering you until it becomes so unpleasant to do business here that you go somewhere else."
DEA task force members, which include local law enforcement officers, closed in when the two suspect vehicles and their occupants made contact Monday afternoon. Occupants of the first vehicle surrendered without incident, but the suspect in the second vehicle a black Mercedes Benz attempted to flee.
Two task force vehicles blocked the Benz, and when the suspect hurdled the hood of one of the DEA units, officers quickly tackled and subdued him.
Thomas said investigators also learned something new when they inspected the drugs subsequently seized. In addition to the expected "bricks" of methamphetamine, they also found the drug had been fashioned into flat panels that had been sewn into brief cases.
"That gives us an idea of how they are smuggling meth across the border," Thomas said, noting that the panels also could easily be hidden throughout a vehicle in head liners, seats and trim.
The suspects arrested were unarmed, a relief to law officers, given Sinaloa's violent reputation for mass executions, including beheadings, in its ongoing battle with the Zetas Cartel in Mexico.
Given the ongoing nature and sensitivity of the investigation, the names of those arrested were not immediately released.