MADISON COUNTY Ala. -- Earlier this month, authorities discovered the bodies of Oralia Mendoza and her 13-year-old granddaughter, Mariah Lopez. Investigators told WHNT that Mendoza had ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel, and had traveled to Georgia days before her murder to pick up methamphetamine.
This is not the first time the Sinaloa Cartel has had activity here in Alabama. The Sinaloa Cartel is a Mexican drug gang, with a large reach in the United States.
Our news partners at AL.com reported that same week, two cartel-connected meth dealers were sentenced to federal prison. Earlier this year, a cartel-connected man claimed he had killed three dozen people and planned a hit on an Alabama police officer.
Bret Hamilton an assistant special agent special agent in charge for Alabama's Drug Enforcement Administration. He said he's been following the Sinaloa Cartel for over 20 years.
Hamilton said the Sinaloa Cartel has been committing violent acts dating back to the 80's when they kidnapped and murdered a DEA agent. Hamilton said the Sinaloa Cartel deals primarily with methamphetamines. The Cartel brings the drugs from Mexico for distribution in the U.S.
He said cartel activity is always on their radar, but the hardest part for drug enforcement is identifying who is bringing in the drugs, and where they are hiding them before they move on to other places in the U.S.
Hamilton said that the gang activity doesn't pose a specific danger to innocent bystanders. He said most of the danger takes place south of the border, where they can operate under the radar. But he said that his work at the DEA can be discouraging because compared to 20 years ago there are now more drugs, more addiction, and the U.S. is spending more money to fight the drug epidemic.