Top Mexican Drug Lord Arrested in U.S.

Arizona Border 3
Breitbart Texas / Ildefonso Ortiz

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of one of the top leaders in the Sonora region who was at one time part of the Sinaloa Cartel, but may have switched sides. While the man has been in U.S. custody for more than two weeks, federal authorities just announced his capture. It remains unclear if he surrendered.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on October 11, Sajid Emilio “El Cadete” Quintero Navidad was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and was immediately taken before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Adlers who formally charged him and unsealed the indictment against him, thus making it public. It remains unclear why Quintero’s arrest was announced two weeks after he went before the court.

Quintero is the cousin of Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, one of the kingpins responsible for the murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Rafael “Kiki” Camarena. Caro Quintero had been serving a lengthy prison sentence in Mexico but was released before the U.S. was notified. The convicted drug lord is facing multiple charges connected to Camarena’s murder and to his trafficking activities.

The man known as El Cadete has also been described by prosecutors as a close partner of top Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. As Breitbart Texas’ Robert Arce reported, El Cadete is believed to have been operating as a regional cartel leader in Cajeme, Sonora, and is believed to have turned on the Sinaloa Cartel. Currently, the border states of Sonora and Chihuahua are seeing a spike in violence as various factions of the Sinaloa Cartel and their rivals continue to fight for territorial control.

Quintero’s arrest comes months after his ally turned rival, Damaso “Mini Lic” Lopez Serrano, surrendered himself in to authorities at a port of entry in California, Breitbart Texas reported. Damaso Lopez’ father, Damaso Lopez Nunez, also known as “El Licenciado” or “The Attorney,” made a move to take over the Sinaloa Cartel. Mexican authorities arrested Lopez before he succeeded.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon.  You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at


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