Feds stop Iraqi-Mexican drug operation

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – About 30 people are facing federal charges and 21 others are awaiting prosecution by the state as a result of a multi-agency investigation into an Iraqi social club in El Cajon allegedly used as a hub for drugs and weapon trafficking.

The defendants were arrested over the past several days as part of a probe dubbed “Operation Shadowbox,” which targeted the club at 811 E. Main St. Described as an Iraqi social club, it had been the subject of numerous complaints alleging drug sales, gambling, prostitution and other criminal activity, El Cajon police Chief Pat Sprecco said Thursday.

During the investigation, operatives discovered a suspected association with the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico-based drug- trafficking organization, and the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, which began in Detroit in the early 1980s and has been linked to numerous crimes, including murder, arson and kidnapping, he said.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine, more than four pounds of Ecstasy and pharmaceuticals, and about 3,500 pounds of marijuana. Authorities also confiscated more than $630,000, three luxury cars and 34 firearms.

The federal suspects under arrest include an alleged ringleader, Nofel Noel Suleyman, who could be charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. The alleged destructive device was a pipe bomb filled with nails.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said her office would be prosecuting 21 cases, several of which involved the alleged trafficking of methamphetamine.

During a search of the club Wednesday night, about $16,000 was seized, as was evidence of illegal gambling, Sprecco said. About 100 people were detained and released.

Since January, undercover DEA and El Cajon Police Department personnel have purchased narcotics, firearms, improvised explosive devices and pharmaceuticals from people at the club, Sprecco said.

Categories: KUSI