Skip to main content
Press Release

Sinaloa Cartel Associate Sentenced After Decades of Cocaine Trafficking

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Mexican national was sentenced today to 21 years and 10 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $280 million for his role in an international conspiracy to transport tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States over the span of four decades.

In March 2023, Raul Flores-Hernandez, 71, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to international cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

“For more than three decades, Raul Flores-Hernandez worked with the leaders of the world’s largest, most violent cartels, including El Chapo of the Sinaloa Cartel, to traffic deadly drugs into the United States,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department has held him accountable for his crimes, and he has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Anyone who profits from the violence and devastation of the illegal drug trade at the expense of the American people should be prepared to face the full force of the Justice Department.”

“It may be impossible to quantify the destruction wrought by this defendant channeling vast quantities of cocaine across the globe,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath for the Southern District of California. “One thing is certain—­­­the world is far safer with this sentence.”

According to court documents, Flores-Hernandez was the leader of a drug trafficking organization responsible for trafficking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine from South America through Mexico and into the United States. For example, in 2003, Flores-Hernandez and his partners used oil tanks to smuggle more than two tons of cocaine into Mexico every week, at least half of which was imported into the United States. In 2007 and 2008, Flores-Hernandez sent tens of millions of dollars in U.S. currency to Colombia to purchase cocaine. During his time as a narcotrafficker Flores-Hernandez was closely aligned with the leaders of some of the most violent drug cartels, including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa Cartel and Hector Beltran of the Beltran Leyva Organization.

“Raul Flores Hernandez spent decades working closely with El Chapo and others to transport hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America, through Mexico, into the United States, knowing it would devastate American communities,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “He will now spend decades in prison. I commend DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division and San Ysidro District Office and our law enforcement partners for their work bringing Flores Hernandez to justice.” 

“Today’s sentencing is the result of the close cooperation and dedication of HSI’s domestic and international law enforcement partners,” said Executive Associate Director Katrina W. Berger of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “HSI is dedicated to working with our partners to investigate, disrupt, and dismantle those transnational criminal organizations that threaten national security and the safety of our communities.”

The DEA Los Angeles Field Division and San Ysidro Office, as well as HSI San Diego, investigated the case, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service’s Investigative Operations Division.

Acting Assistant Deputy Chief Melanie L. Alsworth and Trial Attorneys Kirk Handrich and Jonathan Hornok of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Martin for the Southern District of California represented the United States during Flores-Hernandez’s sentencing.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with Mexican authorities to secure the arrest and extradition of Flores-Hernandez.

Updated January 12, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-44