A multi-agency law enforcement team in Phoenix had an early start this morning, when their task force arrested 20 defendants out of a 53-count indictment.

The indictment states that from about September 2009 to December of 2010, the defendants conspired to purchase hundreds of firearms to be illegally exported to Mexico.

“Our office is committed to stopping the illegal flow of guns into Mexico,” said Dennis K. Burke, U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona in a statement. “The massive size of this operation sadly exemplifies the magnitude of the problem — Mexican Drug Lords go shopping for war weapons in Arizona.”

The Justice Department is trying to crack down on the gun trafficking across the Southwest Border. There have been reports of parallel cases, another 14 people have been charged with gun-trafficking crimes. The defendants are pending trial.

Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division, Bill Newell said, “This investigation is further proof of the relentless efforts by Mexican drug cartels, especially the Sinaloa Cartel, to illegally acquire large quantities of firearms in Arizona and elsewhere in the U.S. for use in the ongoing Mexican drug war.”

A program known as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) has been put into place, The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. This task will hopefully combat the Mexican Cartels and all of the associated violence, firearms trafficking, money laundering and corruption.

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