NPR logo Feds Indict Alleged Mexican Drug Cartel Leaders

Feds Indict Alleged Mexican Drug Cartel Leaders

Members of the Mexican navy stand guard beside seven tons of cocaine in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca state, Mexico on February 16, 2009. Carlos Reyes/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Carlos Reyes/AFP/Getty Images

Members of the Mexican navy stand guard beside seven tons of cocaine in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca state, Mexico on February 16, 2009.

Carlos Reyes/AFP/Getty Images

The latest federal salvo in the drug war came Wednesday with the Justice Department announcing charges against 43 defendants, including 10 alleged leaders of Mexican drug-cartels, in federal courts in Brooklyn and Chicago.

According to the Justice Department, those indicted are responsible for distributing almost 200 metric tons, or 440,800 pounds of cocaine, into the U.S. while smuggling out of the country $5.8 billion in U.S. cash.

An excerpt from the Justice Department's press release:

"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. Today's indictments demonstrate our unwavering commitment to root out the leaders of these criminal enterprises wherever they may be found. We will continue to stand with our partners in Mexico to dismantle the cartels' insidious operations."

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More from the agency's press release:

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." Each of these three is designated as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target or CPOT by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

Also charged in the Brooklyn indictments were seven other cartel leaders, including CPOT Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel Villarreal, Hector Beltran-Leyva (Arturo's brother) and Jesus Zambada-Garcia (Ismael's brother), each alleged leaders within the Federation; CPOT Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, the alleged head of the Juarez Cartel; CPOT Luis and Esteban Rodriguez-Olivera, alleged leaders of Los Gueros; and CPOT Tirso Martinez-Sanchez, the alleged head of his own international drug trafficking organization.

Together, the four Brooklyn and eight Chicago indictments charge that between 1990 and December 2008, Guzman-Loera, Ismael Zambada-Garcia, Arturo Beltran-Leyva 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.

The Justice Department has also made public the actual indictments.