The Santa Barbara Police Department’s announced progress this week in a year-long investigation targeting a tightly knit drug distribution ring. In mid-October and on November 2, the SBPD’s Narcotics Task Force arrested 25 people believed to be mid-level and upper-level dealers, charging them with offenses ranging from possession for sales to conspiracy.
Most of the suspects are males in their 30s and many are related to each other. Those related suspects have close ties to the Sinaloa region in Mexico, home of folk hero Jesus Malverde, a 19th century bandit (icon pictured) often worshipped as the Angel of the Poor. More recently, he’s been labeled a “narco saint” and his shrine near Culiacán, Mexico attracts hundreds of pilgrims each year.
Six vehicles, $15,000 in cash, and more than six pounds of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin have been seized. Numerous law enforcement agencies cooperated in the investigation, and more arrests are expected, according to police.