60 charged with running California-based meth network

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sixty people are charged with running a California-based drug ring that sold methamphetamine around the country and in Australia, authorities announced Tuesday.

A federal jury in San Diego issued the indictments in May after a year-long investigation that led to the seizure of 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of meth, 90 guns and $250,000 in cash, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.

Forty-four people were in custody and 16 were being sought, authorities said.

Most of those indicted are from San Diego and face charges including importing methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute meth and to launder money.

The drug charges carry at least a 10-year sentence ranging up to life in prison.

According to prosecutors, the network obtained thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine from Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel and smuggled it across the border into the United States in hidden compartments in cars and motorcycles.

“The defendants then used these cars and motorcycles, along with trains, commercial airlines, the U.S. mail and commercial delivery services like FedEx and UPS, to distribute that methamphetamine to dozens of sub-distributors," according to the U.S. attorney's office statement.

The drugs were sold throughout San Diego County, and in Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Kentucky, prosecutors said.

Drugs also were sold in Australia and New Zealand, authorities said.

Profits from drug sales went to the ringleaders through bulk cash shipments, bank account deposits and money transfers through a variety of systems, including Western Union, PayPal and Venmo, authorities said.

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