Agents charge 20 in New Mexico meth ring bust

SANTA FE, New Mexico Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:35pm EST

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SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - Federal authorities on Wednesday said they had broken up a methamphetamine trafficking ring that supplied large amounts of the illegal drug to towns in southeastern New Mexico.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration said that a federal grand jury indicted 17 alleged members of the ring on narcotics charges and that three other members were separately charged in criminal complaints with methamphetamine trafficking.

"With these arrests, DEA and its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners have dismantled an organization responsible for supplying large quantities of methamphetamine to communities in southeastern New Mexico," DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit said in a statement.

Of the 20, two suspects in the ring remain at large, officials said.

Officials said officers in Artesia, N.M., had seized approximately seven pounds of methamphetamine from a vehicle and $50,000 from a residence as part of the investigation.

U.S. Border Patrol agents also seized about nine pounds of the drug found hidden in a sack of horse feed in a horse trailer during an inspection at a checkpoint between El Paso, Tex., and Carlsbad, N.M. on August 25, they said.

The ring allegedly distributed the methamphetamine in the state from August through November 10.

(Reporting by Dennis J. Carroll. Editing by Peter Bohan)

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