After a months long investigation, federal and local law enforcement agencies have arrested several valley residents with roots to a dangerous and violent Mexican drug cartel operating here in the valley.
More than twenty people associated with the La Familia drug cartel now sit behind bars after officials say they ran meth labs in Fresno, Madera, Merced and Stanislaus counties.
The Department of Justice launched an investigation in August targeting the group known in Mexico for gruesome violence including kidnapping and be-headings.
Agents say the group was making strong connections in Merced. They also say the group was finding new ways to go unnoticed.
DOJ agents seized a methamphetamine conversion lab and two meth super labs, as well as 10 pounds of crystal meth, 14 pounds of meth, 17 firearms and more than $100,000 in cash.
Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse says, "The Central Valley has become an emerging battleground in the fight to keep transnational drug cartels from gaining a foothold from which to operate."