AP IMPACT: Cartels dispatch agents deep inside US

SANDALS Resorts (300 x 250)

FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2009 file photo, weapons and drugs seized in special joint operation conducted with the Drug Enforecement Administration against the La Familia drug cartel based out of Michoacan, Mexico and operating in San Bernardino and surrounding counties, are on display at a news conference at sheriff's headquarters in San Bernardino, Calif. Drug cartels have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)CHICAGO (AP) — Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world's most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.