Forty-three defendants in the United States and Mexico, including 10 alleged Mexican drug cartel leaders, have been charged in 12 indictments unsealed yesterday and today in U.S. federal courts in Brooklyn and Chicago. The alleged leaders and other high-ranking members of several of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels are charged with operating continuing criminal enterprises or participating in international drug trafficking conspiracies. All but one of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the charges against them.
"Breaking up these dangerous cartels and stemming the flow of drugs, weapons and cash across the Southwest border is a top priority for this Justice Department," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "The cartels whose alleged leaders are charged today constitute multi-billion dollar networks that funnel drugs onto our streets and what invariably follows is more crime and violence in our communities."
Three of the suspected leaders were charged in both Brooklyn and Chicago. Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman-Loera, Ismael "el Mayo" Zambada-Garcia and Arturo Beltran-Leyva, who are allegedly among the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, are alleged to be present and former heads of an organized crime syndicate known as the "Sinaloa Cartel" and "the Federation."
The indictments charge that between 1990 and December 2008 they and others were responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 metric tons of cocaine, additional large quantities of heroin, and the bulk smuggling from the United States to Mexico of more than $5.8 billion in cash proceeds from narcotics sales throughout the United States and Canada.