Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego

Karen I. Flowers, Special Agent in Charge

October 27, 2017

Contact: Kameron Korte

Phone Number: (571) 324-6204

Drug Cartel Leader Arrested

Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, aka Cadete, Arrested by Law Enforcement in the Southern District of California

SAN DIEGO - Major Mexican drug cartel leader Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, aka Cadete, was arraigned in federal court on October 11, 2017, following his arrest by United States law enforcement at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on charges arising out of the Southern District of California. Quintero Navidad is the cousin of fugitive Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero and the associate of high-ranking Mexican cartel leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, aka Mayo. He is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leaders to be arrested in the United States.  

In August 2014, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) designated Quintero Navidad as a “Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker,” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. As part of that designation, OFAC identified Quintero Navidad as a Mexico-based narcotics trafficker who coordinated the transportation of ton quantities of cocaine from South America through Mexico and onto the United States.

A federal grand jury in San Diego returned an indictment on September 22, 2017, charging Quintero Navidad with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation, Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments. That same day, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest. On October 11, 2017, Quintero Navidad was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and on that same day, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler arraigned Quintero Navidad on these charges and unsealed the indictment against him.     

The unsealed indictment marks the conclusion of the initial phase of a multi-year investigation. This joint Homeland Security (HSI) and Drug Enforcement (DEA) investigation targeted the leadership elements, lieutenants, associates, and money launderers connected with the Rafael Caro-(RCQ) DTO and Beltran Leyva (BLO).

“The arrest of Sajid Quintero-Navidad illustrates the great work that DEA and its law enforcement partners do every day,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William Sherman. “This high level target will no longer be able to smuggle deadly drugs across our border.”

Other agencies involved in the investigation are Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations, United States Marshals Service, Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations, Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs
Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, El Centro Police Department, Brawley Police Department, Imperial County District Attorney’s Office, and Imperial Valley, Law Enforcement Coordination Center.

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