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News Release
June 2, 1998

DEA Confirms Arrest By Mexican Authorities of AMEZCUA-CONTRERAS Brothers

photograph of Luis Ignacio Amezcua-Contrerasphotograph of Jesus Amezcua-ContrerasThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) confirms the arrest by Mexican government law enforcement organizations of two leaders of the Amezcua-Contreras organization, the most powerful and dominant methamphetamine trafficking organization in Mexico. DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine stated today that "the Government of Mexico should be commended for the actions of their law enforcement agencies which led to the arrest of two DEA fugitives, Luis and Jesus Amezcua." On Monday, June 1, 1998, DEA fugitive Luis Ignacio AMEZCUA-Contreras was arrested in Guadalajara, Jalisco, by agents from the Mexican counter-narcotics agency, Fiscalia Especial Para Atencion a los Delitos Contra la Salud (FEADS), at approximately 8:00 p.m. local time. He was immediately transported by plane to Mexico City, where he remains incarcerated in the same maximum security federal prison that holds his brother, Adan, and brother-in-law, Jaime Ladino. On Tuesday, June 2, 1998, FEADS agents also arrested his brother, Jose de Jesus AMEZCUA-Contreras, in Mexico City at approximately 12:40 a.m. local time. Jesus is incarcerated at the same federal prison. Adan AMEZCUA-Contreras was previously arrested November 10, 1997, in his hometown of Colima, and was indicted on numerous drug trafficking charges in Mexico City on January 1, 1998, along with his brothers, Luis and Jesus, and other members of the organization.

"The AMEZCUA brothers run the largest methamphetamine and chemical trafficking organization identified by U.S. law enforcement, and the arrest and removal of these two key leaders should significantly disrupt the established methamphetamine trade which is carried out by organized crime leaders in Mexico. DEA shares with the Government of Mexico the goal of completely destroying this organization and any others like it," commented DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine, upon hearing of the arrests.

The AMEZCUA-Contreras organization, run by brothers Luis, Jesus, and Adan AMEZCUA-Contreras, is the most prominent methamphetamine trafficking organization operating today, as well as the leading supplier of chemicals to other methamphetamine trafficking organizations. Along with their methamphetamine and chemical trade, the AMEZCUAS continued to send tons of cocaine to the U.S. In December 1997, with the conclusion of Operation Meta, an investigation which targeted methamphetamine and cocaine organizations, law enforcement discovered strong evidence that the production and distribution of methamphetamine found in Operation Meta was connected to the AMEZCUA-Contreras organization.

In less than ten years, the AMEZCUA-Contreras organization has grown from a low-level cocaine trafficking group in Southern California to the most prolific methamphetamine and precursor chemical trafficking organization in North America. In the late Eighties, with the major organized crime leaders in Mexico dominating the cocaine trade, the AMEZCUA brothers exploited the underdeveloped methamphetamine trade in the United States. Since the Sixties, the methamphetamine trade had traditionally been dominated by outlaw motorcycle gangs and small independent traffickers. But that changed in the late Eighties, when organizations, like that of the AMEZCUA-Contreras brothers, began producing methamphetamine on a larger and more structured scale.

While trafficking cocaine for the Colombian organizations, the AMEZCUAS learned the lessons of marketing and structuring the drug trade as an international business. They also learned from the mistakes made by other organizations, in particular to avoid violent clashes for territory and markets. By 1992, the AMEZCUAS had established their own international chemical contacts in such diverse places as Switzerland, India, Germany and the Czech Republic. By exploiting the legitimate international chemical trade, they held an important key to producing methamphetamine on a grand scale, and more importantly, controlling their own destiny. Unlike the cocaine business where the traffickers from Mexico got a percentage of the profits for distributing the drug, with the methamphetamine trade, they were no longer middlemen. They were traffickers in their own right, and as such, kept 100 percent of all profits. This also allowed them the freedom to expand their trade and territory.

Another key to the success and longevity of this organization has been the insulated structure they developed. The AMEZCUA brothers heavily recruited relatives, including in-laws, as well as long-established friends. In turn, that second tier of operatives recruited individuals to engage in the dangerous cooking of methamphetamine, as well as the risky activity of smuggling either chemicals or methamphetamine into the United States.

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