18 Charged In 'Operation Mexican Asphalt'

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Authorities announced Thursday that 18 people will face charges in connection with a heroin ring that originated out of a Mexican restaurant.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the arrests were made during Operation Mexican Asphalt, a six-month joint investigation that included federal, sate and local law enforcement agencies.

During the course of the investigation, authorities executed search warrants at 11 locations in Franklin County.  The case centered on El Cora restaurant, located at Westland Mall on West Broad Street, the release said.

SLIDESHOW: Images From Report | ONLINE EXTRA: List Of Defendants, Charges (PDF)

The restaurant's owner, David Gonzalez Rendon, has been charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Investigators said that 17 others were also charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

The charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

In addition, seven of the 18 defendants also face charges of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. Such a charge is punishable by up to 40 years in prison.

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