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24 cartel members arrested in cross-border operation; weapons, drugs found

In this Jan. 4, 2016 photo, a U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols Sunland Park along the U.S.-Mexico border next to Ciudad Juarez. The New Mexico border town, next to El Paso, Texas, has struggled to put a series of national scandals behind it until two city councilors were recently arrested. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

Twenty-four members of the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in a cross-border operation with the Mexican government according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and partners from the DEA, FBI, CBP, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Scottsdale Police Department worked with the Government of Mexico to bring Mexican federal police officers into the United States in order to have a better handle on the operation.

The operation, entitled Mexican Operation Diablo Express, targeted the Sinaloa Cartel, who are responsible for the importation of millions of pounds of various illegal drugs. The cartel also smuggles currency and weapons into Mexico. It took place all of Friday, as numerous law enforcement agencies converged onto Lukeville, Arizona, which sits on the border with Mexico.

The operation had a high level of secrecy around it in order to “maintain the element of surprise” and the operation’s success “strikes a strong blow to the Sinaloa Cartel” according to ICE spokeswoman Gillian M. Christensen.

The 24 arrested suspects all remain in the custody of the Government of Mexico and the U.S. will seek the extradition of those facing criminal charges in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report