DEA Announces Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas Most-Wanted List
JUL 23 -- DALLAS — The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State today named the ten most-wanted members of the Mexican-based Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas and rewards up to $50 million for information leading to the capture of these notorious drug traffickers.
The Gulf Cartel is widely considered the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico and it is responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States; and facilitates the collection, transportation, and delivery of bulk currency shipments into Mexico.
The Cartel is known among their rivals for their extreme violence. This reputation is owed to a group of Mexican military deserters known as “Los Zetas” who oversee the Cartel as vicious enforcers who have kidnapped, tortured, and murdered—including beheadings—of law enforcement officials, innocent citizens, informants, and rival drug gangs.
Furthermore, the Gulf Cartel is responsible for much of the escalation of violence along our Southwest Border. Their violence is not contained at the Border, however. It has reached as far as Chicago and Detroit and even into small town America, as evidenced by the horrific murders of five people, including 3 innocent bystanders, in Birmingham, Alabama, in August 2008—attributed to the Cartel.
Following former Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas-Guillen’s extradition to the United States in 2007, rumors surfaced that Los Zetas were operating independently from the Cartel, and had begun direct involvement in drug trafficking activities. Reports of Zeta activity from this past year suggest that there are disagreements/conflicts among the leadership. Though details on the current relationship between Los Zetas and the Cartel are tenuous, it appears the two groups continue to work together, but that Los Zetas no longer take orders from the Cartel.
Special Agent in Charge (SAC) James L. Capra, head of the DEA’s Dallas Field Division (FD), noted that the original investigation, that ultimately led to the identification of these 10 most wanted Gulf Cartel members, originated in the Dallas Division under the file title Operation Puma.
From August 2005 to August 2007, the DEA Dallas FD conducted a Title III (wiretap) investigation on members of several cocaine and marijuana distribution cells operating in the Dallas area. These cells were supplied cocaine and marijuana by the Gulf Cartel, working in conjunction with elements of Los Zetas.
DEA Dallas identified Juan Reyes Mejia-Gonzalez, a.k.a. R-1, as the organizations’ source of supply. In addition to supplying the Dallas cells, Mejia-Gonzalez also distributed drugs to Houston, Chicago, and Atlanta. At the time of the investigation, Mejia-Gonzalez was the Gulf Cartel’s “plaza boss” for the Guerrero, Mexico, area, along the Texas-Mexico border. Mejia-Gonzalez reported directly to the leaders of the Gulf Cartel and was responsible for the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana per year for the Cartel. Mejia-Gonzalez also oversaw the collection of millions of dollars in drug proceeds per month for the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas. Conservative estimates indicate Mejia-Gonzalez distributed over 2,000 kilograms of cocaine in Dallas in 2006.
In addition to his distribution activities, Mejia-Gonzalez was also involved in establishing cocaine supply routes from South America to several entry points in Mexico.
The Dallas investigation resulted in indictments handed down in the Northern District of Texas on 33 members of the organization located in Dallas, Houston, Boston, San Diego, several cities along the Texas-Mexico border, and Mexico.
The Dallas investigation resulted in seizures in the Dallas area of approximately 320 kilograms of cocaine, 900 pounds of marijuana, $2,700,000 cash, five real properties, 19 vehicles, 15 handguns, 4 assault rifles and ballistic vests.
GULF CARTEL MOST-WANTED
Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano (AKA El Verdugo, El Lazca, Laz, and Licenciado) is the leader of Los Zetas and the security chief for the Gulf Cartel. He is one of the most violent members of the drug trafficking organization, and he oversees the management and deployment of Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas enforcement operatives. Lazcano-Lazcano was an infantry corporal and a member of the Airmobile Special Forces Group (GAFE) in the Mexican military before being recruited to join Los Zetas in 2002. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen (AKA’s Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, Marcos Ledezma, Tony Tormenta and Licenciado) is the brother of Osiel Cardenas-Guillen and is responsible for facilitating the planning, oversight and overall control of the drug trafficking and money collection activities through the Matamoros-Brownsville corridor on behalf of the Gulf Cartel. It is believed that Cardenas-Guillen is currently involved in the procurement and trafficking of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States on a monthly basis. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Miguel Angel Trevino-Morales (AKA’s Z-40, Zeta 40, David Estrada-Corado, Comandante Forty and El Catorce) is a high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas, responsible for collecting the “PISO” (tariff) at all drug plazas controlled by the Gulf Cartel in Mexico. From 2006 to 2007, Miguel Angel Trevino-Morales was believed to have served as Nuevo Laredo Plaza Boss for the Gulf Cartel. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Alejandro Trevino-Morales (AKA 42, Omar and Comandante Forty Two) is the brother of Miguel Angel Trevino-Morales and a mid-level ranking member of the Gulf Cartel operating on behalf of the Gulf Cartel in Nuevo Laredo, MX. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Juan Reyes Mejia-Gonzalez (AKA R-1, Kike , Kiki , Quique) (Dallas Fugitive) is responsible for facilitating communications between Gulf Cartel hierarchy and Central and South American sources of supply for cocaine. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Mario Ramirez-Trevino (AKA Mario Armando Ramirez-Trevino, X-20, Mario Pelon, and Pelon) is believed to be the second-in-command of the Gulf Cartel and responsible for overseeing the day-to-day drug trafficking operations in Reynosa, Mexico. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Gilberto Barragan-Balderas (AKA’s Heriberto and Tocayo) assists in furthering the clandestine activities of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. Barragan-Balderas is believed to disseminate information to high-ranking members of the Gulf Cartel which encompasses advanced notice regarding the movement and locations of military and State police patrols as well as mobile checkpoints, thereby protecting narcotics shipments of cocaine and marijuana for the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Jesus Enrique Rejon-Aguilar (AKA Mamito, Caballero and David Enrique Cruz-Maldonado) is an original Zeta member and currently believed to be assigned in overseeing Gulf Cartel activities within the state of Coahuila, Mexico. Rejon-Aguilar is capable of selling multi-ton quantities of marijuana as well as multi-hundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine at a time. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Samuel Flores-Borrego (AKA’s Metro Tres, Tres, M Three, El Cabezon, Metro Three, Commander Tres) is currently in control of Gulf Cartel narcotic operations within Reynosa and Miguel Aleman, Mexico. Reward Up To: $5 Million
Aurelio Cano-Flores (AKA’s Yankee and Yiyo) oversees the Gulf Cartels narcotics related activities in the City of Camargo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Cano-Flores is believed to be actively involved in major bulk marijuana procurements as well as overseeing the repatriation of narcotic related proceeds. Reward Up To: $5 Million