News and Press Releases

Alleged Mexican Cartel Leaders and Associates Targeted in Newest Effort to Combat Drug Trafficking Organizations

July 20, 2009

As part of coordinated actions against the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas drug trafficking organization (now known as the “Company”) announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, an indictment was unsealed in the Eastern District of New York charging Miguel Trevino-Morales with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, international cocaine distribution, and firearms violations. The charges are the latest in a series of efforts by the U.S. government to neutralize and dismantle this violent cartel.1

Trevino-Morales, Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sanchez, and Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano, high-level Mexican leaders of the Company, and 15 of their top lieutenants have been charged in various U.S. federal courts with drug trafficking-related crimes. Also today, the State Department announced rewards of up to $50 million, collectively, for information leading to the capture of 10 of these defendants, including the four leaders who were also specially designated as Narcotics Kingpins today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The indictment unsealed in Brooklyn was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York.

Miguel Trevino-Morales is allegedly the principal leader of Los Zetas, originally a security force used by the Gulf Cartel. The Zetas are comprised of former members of the Air Mobile Special Forces Group of the Mexican military and have evolved into not only a security force but a powerful drug trafficking organization in their own right. In addition to the criminal charges filed against Trevino-Morales, the indictment contains a $1 billion forfeiture allegation. If convicted on all charges, Trevino-Morales faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The joint efforts announced today are significant steps in the Department’s strategy to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our communities and the shipment of drug proceeds back to Mexico,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. Mr. Campbell extended his grateful appreciation to ICE and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the agencies responsible for leading the Eastern District’s investigation.

“These indictments and this ICE investigation resulted from close cooperation with our U.S. and Mexico law enforcement partners,” said John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “These partnerships help stem the flow of drugs from entering the U.S., and money and weapons from going south. It is one of my top priorities to ensure we continue building on our existing relationships with our counterparts on both sides of the border.”

“Today’s indictment of Miguel Trevino-Morales is proof that the rule of law will prevail over those who are charged with profiting by violence and drug trafficking,” said DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride. “As alleged in the indictment, Trevino-Morales systematically employed brutal tactics to protect profits gained from the sales of illicit narcotics. His actions caught the attention of the DEA, and now he faces justice in a court of law.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg, Claire Kedeshian, Bonnie Klapper, Patricia Notopoulos, and Carolyn Pokorny.

The Defendant:

Name: MIGUEL TREVINO-MORALES, also known as “Z-40,” “L-40” and “Tono.”
Age: 38


1 The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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