Multi-Agency Investigation Results in Indictment and Arrest of "Drug Kingpin" Associated with the Sinaloa Cartel Operating in Sonora, Mexico
The transnational criminal organization targeted Alaska in trafficking methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.
ANCHORAGE – Miguel Baez Guevara, 38, a United States citizen living in Mexico, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 17 counts related to his leadership role in trafficking narcotics directly from Mexico to Alaska. Guevara was arrested by Mexican immigration authorities from the Instituto Nacional de Migración in Sonora, Mexico, on Friday, September 10, and deported to the United States. U.S. Law Enforcement arrested Guevara upon his arrival in Arizona. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona. He will remain detained pending his transfer to Alaska.
According to the recently unsealed indictment, beginning in 2016 Guevara’s organization operated to import heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine directly from Mexico to Alaska. Guevara claimed membership in, and association with, the Sinaloa Cartel. Guevara’s network specifically targeted Alaska because they received higher profits for the illegal drugs due to Alaska’s significant distance from the Mexican sources of supply.
Using social media and encrypted messaging applications, Guevara’s network recruited drug couriers who lived in Alaska. The couriers were promised money or drugs in exchange for traveling to Mexico to collect the narcotics for transport back to Alaska. Couriers were required to submit photos of their driver’s license and other personal information. Guevara made it known he was associated with the Sinaloa Cartel and there were serious and violent repercussions for couriers who stole narcotics or provided information to law enforcement. The couriers often traveled in small groups with an assigned team leader. Couriers typically carried about 250 grams of narcotics on each trip. Once the couriers arrived in Alaska a member of Guevara’s network, who was stationed in Alaska, paid them and collected the narcotics. Street level dealers in Alaska contacted Guevara who coordinated the sale between his Alaska workers and the local dealer. Guevara did not cross into the United States due to outstanding federal and state arrest warrants but conducted all operations from Mexico.
The Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute 21 U.S.C. § 848 is often referred to as the “Kingpin Statute.” The statute is designed to reach the top brass in drug trafficking organizations, and not the lieutenants and foot soldiers. The statute was enacted to target large-scale profit-making enterprises engaged in the illegal importation, manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. A conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.
The indictment and arrest are part of an ongoing, large scale drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Albondiga” which has resulted in the arrest and criminal charges of 23 individuals since 2016.
The defendants (in alphabetical order) are as follows:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are leading the investigation with investigative support provided by Anchorage Police Department (APD), Homeland Security Investigations Sells, Arizona, Office (HSI), U.S. Customs & Border Patrol, the Alaska State Troopers (AST), Ted Stevens International Airport Police and the Alaska National Guard. We also want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona and law enforcement agencies in the State of Arizona for their invaluable help with this case and “Operation Albondiga.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Taylor, Allison O’Leary, and Chris Schroeder are prosecuting the case.
Operation Albondiga is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.