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California authorities bust major meth ring

On June 19, federal, state and local authorities in California conducted an undercover drug raid called "Operation Red Reaper," which broke up a large drug distribution network that was allegedly run by violent street and prison gangs. The raid, which resulted in the arrest of 54 people, was the culmination of a 10-month investigation.

According to media reports, members of the Norteño street gang and the Nuestra Familia prison gang were distributing methamphetamine throughout Kings County and Tulare County. Apparently, two members of Nuestra Familia used contraband cell phones to run the operation from within Pleasant Valley State Prison in Fresno County, ordering drugs from suppliers in Mexico and California and arranging their transport to a Kings County stash house. From there, it was delivered to lower-level drug dealers and sold to customers.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents seized more than 36 pounds of drugs and 53 firearms. In addition to being accused of drug manufacturing and trafficking, the defendants in the case, who range in age from 19 to 49, were allegedly involved in murders and extortion. If convicted, some of them could be sentenced to up to life in prison. The investigation was conducted by the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, the Kings County Sheriff's Office, the Hanford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

Those facing drug trafficking charges could be sentenced to decades in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. However, defendants have the right to retain a criminal defense attorney and mount a vigorous defense to the accusations. The attorney might challenge the prosecution's evidence and work to get the charges dismissed. If necessary, legal counsel may also attempt to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges, which might also lead to a more lenient sentence.

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