Justice Department Announces Plan to Administer Grant Funding Opportunities for Fiscal Year 2024 to Strengthen Community Safety
Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Good morning. Joining me today are U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald from the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Ben Campbell from the Eastern District of New York, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration Michele Leonhart, and Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton.
Today, we are announcing, in a coordinated action, major drug-trafficking charges against 43 individuals, including cartel leaders, members and associates in two federal districts. Specifically, we allege that these defendants shipped multi-ton quantities of narcotics into the United States through various established smuggling corridors, and then, through a network of affiliated distributors, dispersed these drugs into cities and neighborhoods across the country.
The defendants whose indictments we announce today include alleged leaders of the Sinaloa and Beltran-Leyva cartels, such as:
The indictments unsealed today outline nearly two decades of criminal activity by these cartels and their leaders here in the United States, as well as in Mexico and other countries.
These cartels are not abstract organizations operating in far-off places. They are multi-billion dollar networks funneling drugs onto our streets. What invariably follows these drugs is more crime and more violence in our communities. The audacity of the cartels’ operations is matched only by their sophistication and their reach.
But today, because of the dedicated work of our DEA and ICE agents, the diligence of our prosecutors in Chicago and Brooklyn, and the support of our courageous law enforcement partners in Mexico, we are able to charge leaders and members of these insidious cartels for their heinous crimes here in the United States. Our friends and partners in Mexico are waging an historic and heroic battle with the cartels as we speak. This is not a fight that we in the United States can afford to watch from the sidelines. The stakes are too high and the consequences too real for us. We will continue to investigate, charge, and arrest the cartel leaders and their subordinates, and we will continue systematically to dismantle and disrupt their far-reaching and dangerous operations.
I will let the two U.S. Attorneys with us today describe the charges in more detail, but suffice it to say that the criminal conduct alleged in these indictments did not take place solely in Mexico. Rather, it played out right here in our own backyards. For example, in Chicago we have arrested and charged individuals who allegedly worked directly with Mexican cartels to receive thousand kilo shipments of drugs, and then dispersed those drugs into the Chicago community and throughout the country.
We have learned from previous successful experiences in fighting organized crime that we must not only go after the leaders of these cartels, but also seize the money that funds their operations. That is why in these indictments, we are seeking forfeiture of more than $5.8 billion in illegal drug proceeds. If we can suffocate their funding sources, we can cripple their operations.
Breaking up the Mexican drug cartels and stemming the flow of drugs and illegal firearms across the Southwest border is a top priority for this Justice Department. And we have made important strides in this fight:
All of these efforts have been in addition to the numerous investigations, prosecutions, arrests, and interdictions that our prosecutors and agents carry out across the country every day.
Today’s charges demonstrate that we will not stop until these violent criminal enterprises have been eliminated. And we will continue to stand with our partners in Mexico as we carry on this vital fight. On that note, I would like to acknowledge President Calderon and his administration for all that they continue to do in leading Mexico’s fight against violent narco-traffickers. I would also like to thank the brave professional agents and prosecutors here in the United States who have made the indictments announced today possible. Their hard work, courage, and sacrifice make all the difference in our ongoing fight. They have shown in the past that we can defeat international narco-traffickers; I am confident that, with their help, we will do so again.
With that, I will turn it over to Pat Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.