California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the results of 17 drug trafficking operations conducted over the past two months by the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Inland Crackdown Allied (INCA) Task Force. During these operations, the INCA Task Force seized approximately $4 million in U.S. currency and arrested 51 individuals on charges of money laundering associated with drug trafficking. The INCA Task Force, which consists of state, federal, and local law enforcement partners, combats narcotic trafficking, narcotic related money laundering, and the associated violence in the Inland Empire. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the INCA Task Force has seen a significant increase in out-of-state major narcotics traffickers traveling to California to obtain narcotics to be distributed throughout the United States.
“Not surprisingly, not even a COVID-19 pandemic triggers the “pause” button for those willing to traffic in drugs,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I want to thank the men and women of the INCA Task Force for their tireless work to prevent drug trafficking throughout our state. These arrests should send a strong message that even during the pandemic, we will continue to hold criminals accountable.”
Over the past two months, the INCA Task Force has seen a significant increase in activity related to out-of-state criminal drug trafficking organizations operating in the Inland Empire. The increase in narcotic proceeds seizures is believed to be, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses, which has made it harder for drug trafficking organizations to transfer or launder narcotic proceeds through commonly used businesses that were forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic. As a result, members of these drug trafficking organizations entered California from states – including Washington, Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Maine – to purchase illegal drugs.
These individuals, engaged in drug trafficking and money laundering, were intercepted by members of the INCA Task Force and arrested. In a 60-day period alone, the INCA Task Force conducted 17 undercover operations, resulting in the seizure of approximately $4 million in U.S. currency, meant to purchase narcotics in California. In addition, the operations led to the arrest of 51 individuals on charges of money laundering associated with drug trafficking. The INCA Task Force, led by the DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement, formed in 1991 and is federally funded through the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program. It is comprised of members from the California Department of Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Rialto Police Department, Riverside Police Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, California National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, and the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation.