According to the DOJ, a federal grand jury indicted Aureliano Guzman-Loera of Sinaloa, and brothers Ruperto, Jose, and Heriberto Salgueiro-Nevarez of Guadalupe y Calvo. Prosecutors allege the Salgueiro-Nevarez brothers operate a faction of the cartel known as the Salgueiro-Nevarez Organization (SNO) while Guzman-Loera is the brother of former cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera.
The four are accused of committing various violations of the law by internationally distributing controlled substances, including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana over a seven-year period.
Fentanyl is responsible for more than 63 percent of the 96,779 drug overdose deaths in the United States between March 2020 and 2021, according to the State Department.
“El Chapo,” 64, was convicted in February 2019 in a high-profile Brooklyn trial of masterminding a multi-billion-dollar drug enterprise, trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies as a top leader of the Sinaloa cartel, long known as one of Mexico’s largest, most violent drug trafficking organizations.
He was found guilty of all 10 federal criminal counts against him, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other drugs, and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.
The evidence showed that under Guzman’s orders, the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States during his 25-year reign, prosecutors said in court papers recapping the trial.
Guzman, who escaped twice from prison in Mexico, was extradited to the United States in 2017. He is currently serving his sentence in the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
The State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to the capture and conviction of Guzman-Loera and the Salgueiro-Nevarez brothers.
The indictment comes as illegal drug cartels and gang activity are taking over small Southern California towns and allegedly causing residents to flee their homes, according to a new investigative documentary released by Daily Caller reporter Jorge Ventura.
“Cartelville, USA,” released Nov. 4, documents Ventura’s investigation into illegal marijuana growing operations emerging in Los Angeles County, particularly in his native Antelope Valley. Ventura said he wanted to “shine a light” on the situation in his hometown. “I felt that Americans living in these towns needed a voice on this story.”
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a June press conference that his department identified 150 illegal marijuana grows in Antelope Valley in 2020; this year, the number had grown to more than 500.
Ventura said the drug cartels typically smuggle drugs from Mexico and distribute them inside the United States through various channels. The investigative reporter also called on President Joe Biden to tighten enforcement at the southern border, which he said would lower the cartels’ source of labor.
Last month, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ended the “Remain in Mexico” program despite being ordered by a court to move in good faith to restore it. The program, formally known as the Migrant Policy Protocols (MPP), was started during the Trump administration and forced many asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their claims to be heard.
Micaela Ricaforte contributed to this report.