Feds bust ring that labeled drug containers as sea cucumbers

Federal authorities say they've busted up an international drug ring that used containers labeled "sea cucumbers" to send millions of dollars' worth of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl to western New York via California and Mexico.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul (HOH'-kuhl) announced at a news conference Tuesday that 17 people have been indicted on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

Prosecutors say the ring linked to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel used front companies in California and the Buffalo area to smuggle narcotics on pallets of goods purporting to be sea cucumbers, used in Chinese cuisine.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says the sting netted more than $2.5 million worth of illegal drugs. Federal officials say the traffickers sent about $20 million from Buffalo-area banks to California in a one-year period.