Alleged La Familia Mexican Drug Cartel Members and Associates Indicted in Federal Court
NOV 24 -- (Chicago) Seven separate indictments were returned in Chicago on November 19, 2009, charging 15 defendants of alleged involvement with a Chicago cell of a Mexican drug trafficking organization. Arrests and charges initially occurred in August. These indictments allege for the first time that the defendants were connected to the Chicago distribution cell of La Familia Michoacana, whose members and associates distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine and collected tens of millions of dollars in profits within the Chicago area since at least 2007.
During the investigation, which began in 2007, the Chicago Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration seized approximately 250 kilograms of cocaine and $8 million in alleged drug proceeds. One kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds. The seizures occurred mainly in suburban locales, including Berwyn, Bolingbrook, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Joliet, and Justice, officials say. The investigation was part of a multi-agency and multi-jurisdiction narcotics-trafficking investigation that targeted La Familia’s distribution network throughout the United States. Federal charges were brought against over 300 defendants in 19 states last month in coordination with Project Coronado. With the 15 individuals named in the indictments released last week, a total of 20 defendants linked to this investigation are facing federal drug charges in the U.S. District Court in Chicago. The La Familia cartel, accused of importing large quantities of cocaine from Mexico into the United States, is based in the southwestern Mexico state of Michoacan.
The indictment alleges that as part of the conspiracy, an individual in Mexico and members and associates of the La Familia cartel’s distribution cell in the Chicago area formed a “command and control group designed for the efficient distribution” of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and the collection of drug proceeds from the wholesale distributors and their associates. The 15 defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute multiple kilogram quantities of cocaine, while some defendants face additional drug trafficking-related charges. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of as much as $20 million, as well as the millions of dollars already seized during the investigation.
The conspiracy count against each of the 15 defendants charged in the indictments released last week carries a minimum sentence of ten years in prison, with a maximum of life, and a possible $4 million fine. If convicted, a judge would determine the appropriate sentence to impose.
The charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Stephen A. Luzinski, Acting Special Agent-In-Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division Office. The Illinois State Police, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Chicago, Aurora, and Arlington Heights Police Departments assisted in the investigation. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet Bhachu, Michael Donovan, Stephen Baker and Erika Csicsila.
A list of the cases and defendants follow:
United States v. Ayala-German, et al. (09 CR 546)
United States v. Flores-Candelario
United States v. Godinez-Gonzalez, et al.
United States v. Hernandez
United States v. Gonzalez
United States v. Lucatero
United States v. Rodriguez
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government will have the burden of proving his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.