A Mexican drug cartel trying to move into D.C. wound up getting busted instead—and loaning Metropolitan Police Department officers the drugs they used to do it.

A police source says MPD heard La Familia Michoacana was hoping to grab new markets in the District, and in November, undercover officers got close to a man who identified himself as a member. In cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the cops bought a kilo of cocaine from him for $32,000. The purchase helped gain the dealer’s trust.  So much so that the alleged gangster was willing to take an I.O.U. for more.

Undercover cops set up a deal to buy a whopping 5.6 pounds of crystal meth for $103,000. In order to gather that sort of weight, the supplier brought in accomplices and traveled to meth houses in Georgia and North Carolina. On Nov. 15, he fronted MPD the drugs, believing they’d be good for the money later. When, on Friday, they met to settle up, eight people were arrested, and eight search warrants were executed, in an operation that also involved law enforcement from North Carolina and Georgia. Cops seized 86 pounds of meth total. According to the source, the street value of the captured drug supply is $5.3 million.

It’s not clear whether these busts were connected to the raiding of a meth “super lab” outside of Atlanta last month. Police sources have contended that various national and international gangs have long had their eye on D.C., but have found the city difficult to occupy.

Photo by CATR via Flickr/Creative Commons