WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. arrested more than 250 people and seized 600 kilograms (1,323 lbs) of illegal narcotics on Wednesday, as part of a broader crackdown known as "Project Python" that targets the Mexican drug cartel known as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
The announcement comes about a month after the U.S. unveiled criminal charges against the daughter of the cartel's recognised leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, better known as "El Mencho," and extradited his son to the U.S. to stand trial.
The cartel is "one of the most prolific drug trafficking organizations in the world," the Drug Enforcement Administration's Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said during a press conference on Wednesday. "They have over 100 methamphetamine labs in Mexico and this country is being flooded with methamphetamine."
Justice Department officials said that in its six-month run, Project Python has led to the arrests of more than 750 people tied to the cartel and the seizure of 20,000 kilograms of drugs.
In February, the cartel's No. 2 in command Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez aka "Menchito" was extradited to the United States from Mexico to face drug trafficking and firearm charges in Washington, D.C. He has pleaded not guilty.
His sister and the drug cartel leader's daughter Jessica Johanna Oseguera Gonzalez aka La Negra, meanwhile, was arrested in February where she too will stand trial in Washington on financial charges.
Justice Department officials described her to reporters on Wednesday as the cartel's primary money-launderer. She has also pleaded not guilty.
A grand jury last month returned a second superseding indictment, meanwhile, against El Mencho.
He remains at large, and the State Department has offered a $10 million reward for information that leads to his arrest.
Dhillon said that he believes the arrests have had a "significant impact" on hindering the group's operations.
The cartel has been dubbed by the Treasury Department as a specially designated narcotics trafficker.
"We are not just attacking the kingpins or the higher-level folks. We are going down to the mid-level folks," Dhillon said, adding that Wednesday only marks the end of "phase 1" of Project Python.
"This attack will continue, and it will be relentless."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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