ANTHONY, N.M. — A multi-agency raid in Anthony early Wednesday morning resulted in 17 arrests in the small New Mexico town with a total of 29 people charged.
The suspected drug traffickers were being monitored since January according to the FBI and criminal complaints show the various agencies conducted dozens of drug buys with undercover agents and confidential sources and even bought guns that were allegedly going to be sent to Mexican drug cartels.
"The Anthony area was a specific area of concern for us," said Assistant Special Agent In Charge Terry Wade, from the Albuquerque field office.
Wade said the raid began about 5 in the morning targeting 25 locations in Anthony and conducted some of the raids simultaneously.
Residents in various Anthony neighborhoods woke up to loud explosions, helicopters in the sky and law enforcement agents arresting their neighbors.
"They said not to come out; nobody can come out so we were just looking from the window," said Anthony resident Bertha Biviar.
About a hundred law enforcement agents from the FBI, Border Patrol, New Mexico State Police, Dona Ana County Sheriff's and Las Cruces Police worked together to arrest a total of 22 people during the operation.
"No one agency can do this alone," Wade said. It takes a great deal of coordination from the beginning of the investigation and throughout."
According to criminal complaints on the defendants, confidential sources under the direction of the FBI bought cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana from the suspects.
The documents allege the purchases sometimes happened at their homes, and at times they would meet at area grocery stores and restaurants.
"It's definitely going on in Dona Ana County like it is across the country, so it's one of those things we constantly work on," said Sheriff Todd Garrison.
The documents also allege the sources purchased guns from a convicted felon who was under the impression the guns were going to Mexico to the Juarez Cartel.
Records show those weapons were seized by the FBI.
"We all feel collectively with all the law enforcement agencies that we've made a great stride in making the community safer in and around Anthony," Wade said.