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Officials nab 51 in SJ Valley drug busts
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MERCED (AP) — Officials said Wednesday that they have arrested 51 people in Central California, crippling a drug organization linked to a powerful prison gang.

Agents hit the streets of Merced County on Wednesday, capping an investigation with raids that netted in total 72 pounds of methamphetamine, 6 pounds of cocaine, 300 ecstasy pills, 10 marijuana growing operations, 20 firearms and $98,400 in cash, Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement.

Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse said the investigation that began in September targeted Norteño gang members who worked with the Nuestra Familia Prison Gang.

“We dealt a significant body blow to an organized crime cartel,” Morse said. “We’ll never relent in our efforts to destroy the revenue sources for these violent criminal street gangs.”

Agents for the state Department of Justice began looking into allegations that the street gang was selling crystal methamphetamine and collecting taxes on behalf of the prison gang.

Officials said they suspect the ring had ties to Mexico with distribution in Blytheville, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, in addition to Merced County. Charges include weapons violations, gang enhancements and the possession, transportation, distribution and sale of methamphetamine.

“Drug traffickers have built sophisticated alliances and distribution networks that stretch across state and national borders,” Harris said, noting that the government needs to meet them with equally coordinated efforts.