An alleged Sinaloa Cartel member accused of smuggling substantial amounts of cocaine and marijuana is in federal custody following his extradition from Mexico.
Arturo Urquidi aka “Chous,” 47, is charged in an April 2012 indictment returned by a federal grand jury in El Paso, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Officer of West Texas. Urquidi is charged with one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO conspiracy), one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, one count of conspiracy to import into the United States five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering offenses and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
“The Sinaloa Cartel has smuggled multi-ton quantities of cocaine and heroin into our country for decades, using intimidation, violence, and murder to build and protect their criminal empire,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Williamson. Urquidi was one of two dozen alleged high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leaders, including Joaquin Guzman Loera aka “El Chapo” and Ismael Zambada Garcia aka “Mayo,” indicted on federal racketeering charges in April 2012. According to the indictment, Urquidi was responsible for the unloading and loading of cocaine, drug proceeds, and firearms in Sinaloa Cartel warehouses in Juarez.
Last week, co-defendant Mario De La O Lopez, a former Chihuahua, Mexico state police officer, was sentenced to 324 months in federal prison in connection with the investigation into this criminal enterprise. Three defendants–Gabino Salas-Valenciano, Jesus Rodrigo Fierro-Ramirez, and Emigdio Martinez, Jr.– died since the indictment was returned in 2012. Twenty (20) defendants, including Urquidi, remain under indictment. A trial is scheduled for November 2018. Upon conviction, Urquidi would face up to life in federal prison.
This investigation resulted in the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and thousands of pounds of marijuana in cities throughout the United States. Law enforcement also took possession of millions of dollars in drug proceeds which were destined for the cartel in Mexico. Agents and Officers likewise seized hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition intended to be smuggled into Mexico to assist the cartel’s battle for Juarez and the local drug trafficking corridors.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney John F. Bash for the Western District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), El Paso Division; Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie, Jr., of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), El Paso Division; and, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek, II, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Dallas Division.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org