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Press Release

Mexico-Based Drug Cartel Leaders Indicted and Sanctioned

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Rodolfo Maldonado-Bustos, also known as Don Jose, and Euclides Camacho-Goicochea, also known as El Quilles, who occupy leadership roles in the La Nueva Familia Michoacana drug cartel, were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to import heroin into the United States.

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced financial sanctions against Camacho-Goicochea and Maldonado-Bustos, who are fugitives believed to be residing in Mexico.

“These actions demonstrate that in addition to holding cartel leaders accountable for their crimes, we are working together with our partners at the Treasury Department to hit the cartels’ criminal operations where it hurts the most – their profits,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “We will continue to mobilize a whole-of-government effort to disrupt the cartels profiting from the drug trafficking and human smuggling that devastate communities and endanger our national security.”

“These cartel members allegedly imported massive amounts of heroin from Mexico to the Atlanta area and elsewhere in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “The federal indictments in conjunction with the recent imposition of OFAC sanctions send a strong message that our office, in coordination with our law enforcement partners, will relentlessly investigate, prosecute, and defund individuals around the globe who import deadly drugs into our communities.”

“Denying drug cartels the profits earned from distributing poison in our communities is an essential tool in DEA’s efforts to combat these drug cartels,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Murphy of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Atlanta Field Division. “DEA Atlanta will continue to attack the La Nueva Familia cartel on all fronts by arresting its members, as well as seizing their drugs and assets.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation special agents are highly skilled financial investigators who can unravel complex schemes cartels use to hide their money,” said Special Agent in Charge Demetrius Hardeman of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)’s Atlanta Field Office. “IRS-CI and other members of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces will continue working together to bring these international criminals to justice.”

According to the indictments and other information presented in court, in September 2016, agents of the DEA and the IRS-CI initiated an investigation into Mexico-based La Nueva Familia Michoacana cartel members allegedly importing heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into the United States, including to the Northern District of Georgia. As part of the investigation, agents identified Maldonado-Bustos as a high-level cartel member who allegedly coordinated the manufacturing of large quantities of heroin in Mexico.

In particular, the investigation revealed that Maldonado-Bustos allegedly directed the harvesting of gum from opium fields, procured chemicals to process the gum into heroin, and supplied Camacho-Goicochea and other conspirators in Mexico with the heroin to import into cities in the United States, including Atlanta, and Houston. The investigation further revealed that Camacho-Goicochea allegedly coordinated the collection and return of drug proceeds from the United States back to Mexico. In early 2017, agents seized over $580,000 in drug proceeds from vehicles and homes in the Atlanta area, which were ultimately destined for the cartel in Mexico.

Rodolfo Maldonado-Bustos, also known as Don Jose, 59, and Euclides Camacho-Goicochea, also known as El Quilles, 51, both of Guerrero, Mexico, were charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to import heroin into the United States. Camacho-Goicochea was also charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The indictments were returned in August 2017 and were recently unsealed.

The DEA and IRS-CI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebeca Ojeda for the Northern District of Georgia is prosecuting the case against Camacho-Goicochea and Maldonado-Bustos. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel Milam for the Northern District of Georgia and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Hartigan for the Eastern District of North Carolina, provided valuable assistance to the investigation.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

The specific mission of the David G. Wilhelm Atlanta OCDETF Strike Force (the Strike Force) is to degrade and dismantle major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations in the Atlanta metropolitan area and the Northern District of Georgia. To accomplish this mission, the Strike Force will target these organizations’ leaders, focusing on targets designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs), Regional Priority Organization Targets (RPOTs), and their associates. The Atlanta Strike Force is comprised of agents and officers from ATF, DEA, FBI, HSI, USMS, USPIS, and IRS, as well as numerous state and local agencies, and the prosecution is being led by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated June 20, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-787