Feds indict 85 suspected members of drug network

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SAN DIEGO -- Federal authorities unsealed indictments Thursday against 85 alleged members of East San Diego County drug distribution and money laundering networks linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, with more than half of the defendants currently in custody.

The culmination of a year-long investigation has netted the arrests of 47 people who are charged for allegedly distributing methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl throughout Southern California and laundering "tens of thousands of dollars in narcotics proceeds back to Sinaloa-Cartel associated drug traffickers in Mexico."

The U.S. Attorney's Office said 38 defendants remain outstanding as of Thursday afternoon. Those arrested are slated to be arraigned in San Diego federal court Friday afternoon.

Authorities have also seized drugs, cash and guns in connection with the investigation.

Prosecutors say the defendants used services like Signal and WhatsApp to communicate with each other in order to avoid law enforcement detection. However, surveillance, phone records, financial documents, undercover agents and wiretaps were utilized to track the defendants' communications and locations, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Today we sent a message to drug traffickers in our community," U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. "If you sell drugs in San Diego, we will find you and prosecute you to the full extent of the law."

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