An alleged member of the Sinaloa Cartel will make his initial appearance in federal court in El Paso, Texas today. The 47-year-old Arturo Shows Urquidi, alias “Chous,” will face numerous felony charges stemming from an April 2012 federal grand jury indictment. DEA and FBI officials are hailing Urquidi’s extradition and arrest as an exemplar of international efforts to stop one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in North America.
On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas released a statement that an alleged Sinaloa Cartel leader had been taken into federal custody in El Paso after his extradition from Mexico to the United States on Wednesday.
Urquidi’s extradition and arrest come more than six years after an El Paso federal grand jury indicted him on RICO, weapons, and drug charges in 2012. According to that indictment, Urquidi’s role in Cartel operations included loading and unloading cocaine, drug proceeds, and firearms in Juarez.
Urquidi’s alleged crimes include one RICO conspiracy count and one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.
Additionally, Urquidi faces charges for conspiracy to import those drugs into the U.S. And that’s on top of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and finally, and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms for the purpose of committing drug trafficking crimes.
The laundry list of alleged charges is enough to land Urquidi in federal prison for the rest of his life. Indeed, just last week, one of Urquidi’s co-defendants, a former Mexico state police officer, went down on charges in connection to the investigation that landed Urquidi. Mario De La O Lopez will serve a 324-month sentence in federal prison.
Three of the other two-dozen defendants included in the 2012 indictment have died. Twenty others are also under indictment. Urquidi will face criminal trial in November 2018. If convicted, he faces up to a life sentence.
The Sinaloa Cartel has given rise to some of the most infamous and notorious drug kingpins in the Western hemisphere. The cartel originated on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the mid-1980s. Today, however, it rules Mexico’s “Golden Triangle,” three states that are major producers of Mexican opium and cannabis.
For the U.S. Intelligence community, the Sinaloa Cartel represents “the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world.”
In 2011, the Los Angeles Times called the cartel “Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group.”
And in terms of (alleged) drug trafficking, the Sinaloa Cartel is a behemoth. In fact, it’s the most active cartel smuggling illegal substances into the U.S.
But it’s also the leading distributor of cocaine, heroine and illicit marijuana in the United States. According to the Washington Post, the Cartel is North America’s majority supplier of illicit fentanyl, the deadly opioid.
But upon Urquidi’s arrest by U.S. federal agents, DEA Special Agent in Charge Kyle W. Williamson said: “The extradition of Urquidi exemplifies the will of the international law enforcement collaboration to target, dismantle and disrupt the powerful Mexican cartels.”
The investigation, however, didn’t just take the alleged Sinaloa Cartel leader into federal custody. It also netted hundreds of kilos of cocaine and thousands of pounds of cannabis in several U.S. cities. Agents also seized weapons, ammunition and millions of dollars in drug revenue destined for Sinaloa Cartel warehouses in Mexico.
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