During the week of July 17, federal authorities launched what they said was a "successful, strategic and surgical strike" against a Mexican drug cartel by taking over70 people into custody for drug offenses around the country, including Tennessee.
The arrests put one specific group in the crosshairs: La Familia Michoacana, a Mexico-based drug cartel that has reportedly grown into an international operation.
The rash of arrests were a part of an effort dubbed "Project Delirium," which began in early June. Since then federal agents say they have confiscated over 635 pounds of methamphetamine, 260 pounds of cocaine and 24 pounds of heroin that allegedly belongs to the cartel.
In addition to the drugs, officials also gathered $770,499 in drug money.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is labeling Project Delirium a rousing success and added that it is one of the most successful efforts in disrupting the operations of La Familia Michoacana.
A similar operation, called Project Coronado, was carried out in 2009 by the United State Justice Department, which led to 1,200 arrests and roughly 11.7 tons of illegal drugs.
Project Delirium is one of the many blows La Familia Michoacana has reportedly absorbed this year. Earlier this month, Mexican authorities rounded up and captured the cartel's reported leader. The Mexican government went as far to say that his capture signified the end of the cartel.
Mexican officials said La Familia Michoacana set itself apart from its peers by requiring its members to abstain from drugs and alcohol. They say that while La Familia might be shut down in Mexico, a splinter group, calling itself Knights Templar, has emerged in the cartel's home state.
Anyone facing drug charges is going significant defense challenges to overcome if authorities try to link them to a notorious drug cartel such as La Familia.
Source: CNN: "Authorities arrest dozens in 'surgical strike' against Mexican cartel": July 21, 2011