ArrestFive dozen suspects were apprehended in California and accused of being leading members of the Sinaloa drug cartel. The arrests took place in San Diego on a recent Friday. The arrested individuals have been accused of various drug crimes relating to smuggling drugs like methamphetamine. Authorities believe that the alleged cartel members were controlling narcotics transportation and trading activities along California's southern border with Mexico.

One of the arrested persons is the infamous "El Mayo." Two of his children were arrested at the same time. A third child, El Mayo's son, was also arrested in a previous bust. That child has since pleaded guilty to different drug-related charges in court.

Investigation Ongoing Since 2011

The investigation leading up to the arrests has been ongoing since 2011. During this period of time, 117 individuals have been taken into custody and warrants for approximately 200 wiretaps have been ordered. In the more recent arrests, the individuals have been charged with marijuana smuggling and methamphetamine smuggling across the Mexican border. Some have also been charged with heroin and cocaine smuggling out of South America.

Because the charges relate to international, cross-border narcotics smuggling activities, these individuals will likely be prosecuted in federal court. Punishments related to drug smuggling crimes can be particularly severe for those who are convicted of the offenses, so these accused individuals may want to put their best feet forward during their criminal defenses.

Each Person Is Entitled to a Criminal Defense

Each person who is accused of a crime -- no matter how serious the offense -- is entitled to defending him- or herself against the allegations individually in court. Depending on the hard facts and evidence that the prosecution brings forth, some who are accused of crimes may enter pleas of not guilty and try to maintain their innocence by casting doubt upon the prosecution's version of the facts. Others, if strong evidence is brought against them, may try to enter plea bargaining arrangements in exchange for lessening the punishments they would face in the event of conviction.