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US Makes Hundreds of Arrests in Crackdown on Mexican Drug Cartel

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday announced the arrest of 755 people on narcotics-related charges as part of a major campaign against a notorious drug cartel based in Mexico.

Attorney General Holder told reporters at the Justice Department that a 21 month law enforcement investigation known as "Operation Xcellerator" targeted the infamous Sinaloa cartel, which, he says, ships illegal narcotics from Mexico to the United States and Canada.

In addition to making hundreds of arrests in communities across the United States, federal agents and police confiscated 23 tons of illegal drugs - including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

Holder said Mexican and Canadian officials cooperated with the investigation.

"It is no secret that we are now seeing many more international aspects to cases that were once only domestic ones," said Eric Holder. "As our world grows smaller, the ability of criminals from outside the United States to operate within our borders grows larger. In the face of internationalized crime, there are no more important partners than our law enforcement counterparts abroad."

As part of the investigation, officials confiscated three aircraft, three maritime vessels, nearly 150 vehicles and 169 weapons.

The acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Michele Leonhart, said the Sinaloa cartel is feeling the pressure.

"We know the impact of our enforcement is being felt," said Michele Leonhart. "Since the beginning of 2007, cocaine prices have more than doubled, while purity has dropped by more than a third. With this operation, we have denied the Sinaloa cartel and its networks nearly $1 billion in drug revenue."

Suspects indicted as part of the operation face charges of racketeering, drug smuggling, money laundering and illegal weapons possession.

Drug related violence has escalated along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2006 when Mexican officials launched a campaign involving thousands of soldiers to fight drug gangs.

More than 6,000 people were killed last year in Mexico in violence related to illegal drugs.

Attorney General Holder praised the Mexican government for its efforts to attack the problem.

"The Mexican government has been courageous during the last two years to directly confront the drug trafficking cartels," he said. "And I stand before you today to say that we are ready and willing to continue the fight with our Mexican counterparts against these violent enterprises."

The Sinaloa cartel is also suspected of laundering millions of dollars in criminal proceeds from illegal drug trafficking activities.