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Press Release

Former Leader of the Gulf Cartel Extradited to the United States from Mexico for Funneling Massive Amounts of Marijuana and Cocaine Into the United States

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Mario Ramirez-Trevino, also known as “Mario Pelon” and “X-20,” the alleged former leader of the Mexican Gulf Cartel, was extradited to the United States from Mexico to face drug conspiracy charges, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Chief of Operations Anthony D. Williams of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).


Ramirez-Trevino, made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the District of Columbia, after being extradited to the United States on Dec. 18.  Ramirez-Trevino was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial.  Ramirez-Trevino had been in the custody of Mexican authorities pending extradition since his arrest on Aug. 17, 2013.


Ramirez-Trevino was charged, along with 25 other defendants, in a three-count superseding indictment returned on May 9, 2013.  He is charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana for importation into the United States.  He is also charged with two counts of attempted distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the United States for his involvement in

a shipment of approximately 10 tons of cocaine, seized by Mexican authorities in October 2007, and a 2,400 kilogram shipment of cocaine seized by the Panamanian authorities in November 2007.  


“The Gulf Cartel is one of the most violent and brutal drug trafficking organizations, posing a threat to the citizens of both the United States and Mexico,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan.  “This significant extradition is the result of our strong law enforcement relationship with the Government of Mexico, and the Department of Justice’s continuing efforts to combat international narcotics trafficking.” 


“The extradition of Mario Ramirez-Trevino is another demonstration of the outstanding partnership we have with the Government of Mexico,” said Chief Williams.  “We appreciate and recognize the significant efforts of our Mexican partners in the pursuit of justice and the dismantlement of drug trafficking organizations and their command elements.”    


On Dec. 6 and 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions participated in the “Trilateral Summit Against Transnational Organized Crime” where representatives from Colombia, Mexico and the United States renewed their existing commitment to international judicial cooperation to deepen joint strategies in the fight against transnational organized crime.  Additonally, last week, Attorney General Sessions joined Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in meeting with the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso, Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong,  and Acting Mexican Attorney General Elias Beltran for the second U.S.-Mexico Strategic Dialogue on Disrupting Transnational Criminal Organizations. The dialogue covered strategic approaches to disrupt the multi-billion dollar business model of those who profit from illicit drug trafficking and threaten our national security.


According to statements made in court, Ramirez-Trevino was allegedly the former leader of the Gulf Cartel when it worked in close partnership with Los Zetas, collectively known as “The Company.”  The Company worked independently and with other drug trafficking organizations to finance, purchase, transport, and distribute cocaine and marijuana destined for the United States.  The Company imported cocaine from Colombia and elsewhere into Mexico, where it was stored until its eventual importation into the United States.  The Company also sourced marijuana from the mountainous regions in Mexico for importation into the United States.  To accomplish its drug trafficking objectives, the Company relied on acts of violence and enlisted a group of former military officials known as “Los Zetas” to carry out those acts of violence.  Ramirez-Trevino was actively involved in overseeing The Company’s drug trafficking activities in Mexico.


On April 15, 2009, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the President identified Los Zetas as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker.  On July 20, 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also identified the leadership of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano and Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers.  Both men are named as co-defendants in the indictment charging Ramirez-Trevino.  On March 24, 2010, OFAC also named Ramirez-Trevino as a derivative Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. 


The Department expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Mexico for its cooperation and assistance in the apprehension and extradition of Ramirez-Trevino.


The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


The investigation was led by the DEA’s Houston Field Division and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition.

Updated December 19, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 17-1452