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Federal prosecutors announce major meth ring bust

SALT LAKE CITY – This is a big one.  That’s what federal prosecutors are saying about the arrests of more than 30 suspected drug dealers in Utah, including two so-called “local kingpins.”

Joe Gomez and Denny Kandt are not strangers to being arrested.  In fact, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera says she remembers dealing with both men back in the 90s, especially Kandt.

“When I was in the Metro Gang Unit, we used to be dealing with him all the time [for] drive-by shootings, graffiti and various property crimes,” Rivera says.

However, since then, she says their criminal behavior has expanded and evolved.  Federal Prosecutor John Huber says, sadly, the court system is like a revolving door for criminals.

“Too often, in state court, these criminals are recycled over and over again,” he says.

Neither Gomez nor Kandt have been prosecuted on a federal level, and Huber believes the federal court system will have a bigger impact that will slow down their criminal behavior.

Gomez and Kandt are the two main suspects indicted by the US Attorney’s Office, along with over 30 other people who reportedly worked with them.  They reportedly had direct access to meth manufacturers in Mexico.  In fact, representatives from the cartel would reportedly stay at Gomez’s home on occasion to make sure the operation was running smoothly, and that all the drug money was collected.

Both Gomez and Kandt are members of the Norteno Street Gang, and Brian Besser with the DEA describes that gang as an “all you can eat crime buffet.”

“Individuals involved in this network are suspected of committing armed robberies, aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, extortion, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling,” Besser says.

Plus, the gang is allegedly behind a recent high-profile shooting in Salt Lake County.

“The Norteno Street Gang is unequivocally linked to the violence at the Fashion Place Mall,” he says.