DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
With the 1994/1995 arrest of 199 suspects and the seizure of over $13.5 million and 6.5 tons of cocaine, this investigation dealt a major blow to the Colombian drug mafia's operations in seven U.S. citiesLos Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis and Washington, DC.
Operation Foxhunt took its name from one of the investigation's primary targets, Diego Fernando Salazar-Izquierdo, a Cali mafia transportation cell director in Los Angeles known as "Zorro." (Zorro is Spanish for fox.) A second cell director, Over Arturo Acuna, who agents referred to as Arturo, directed parallel drug operations, also out of Los Angeles. Zorro and Arturo each directed their own drug networks, but as is typical in the tightly controlled and compartmentalized management system the Colombian mafia employs, they were instructed not to have any contact with each other. Both Zorro and Arturo, however, reported directly to the head of the organization's U.S network, who was based in Cali, Colombia.
Operation Foxhunt was significant in that the arrest of Zorro and Arturo effectively and completely shut down the distribution of cocaine in the United States by the family in Colombia that supplied these two cell directors.
When Zorro was arrested, he was heard to say, "This has been a very bad day for me." Arturo mistakenly believed he could carry on because he was less careless in cellular phone use. But by then, Foxhunt agents knew the drug organization's phone codes so well that they were seizing drug shipments almost daily. Between mid-June and late July 1994, agents seized approximately 1,262 pounds of cocaine on four separate days.
The cartel then began stockpiling cocaine in Mexico for shipment through Los Angeles and distribution to cities throughout the United States from New York to Nebraska, Missouri, and Arizona. The traffickers used every every type of conveyance available to move cocaine from Colombia through Mexico to U.S. cites. Nevertheless,over three tons of cocaine were found hidden in secret compartments in vans, trucks with camper shells, tractor trailer rigs, passenger cars, planes and boats.
Operation Foxhunt was an enormously successful investigation, benefitting from support from more than 55 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
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