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Press Release

Former Gulf Cartel Leader Extradited to East Texas for Drug Trafficking Violations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Texas

BEAUMONT, Texas – A Mexican national has been extradited to the United States to face drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today. 

Mario Cardenas-Guillen, 57, of Matamoros, Mexico, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 20, 2012, and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.  Cardenas-Guillen was surrendered to the United States on May 17, 2022.  He will make an initial appearance on May 23, 2022, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.   

According to the indictment, beginning in 2000 and continuing through 2012, Cardenas-Guillen is alleged to have conspired with others to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine, which he intended to distribute to others. 

“International sources of illegal drugs continue to poison our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.  “We will make every effort to combat this scourge, and that includes going to the origin of the drugs in foreign countries and arresting and prosecuting those who seek to make a profit off this blight that adversely affects so many in our society.”

“For decades, the Gulf Cartel has used intimidation and extreme violence to maintain control of its territories in northeast Mexico and smuggle deadly drugs into communities across the United States,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The extradition of Mario Cardenas Guillen, the former leader of the Gulf Cartel, should send a clear message to the leaders of drug trafficking organizations around the world that no one is beyond the reach of the DEA and our law enforcement partners.”

If convicted, Cardenas-Guillen faces from 10 years to life in federal prison.

This prosecution 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.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Rapp.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Mexico to secure the arrest and extradition of Cardenas-Guillen to the United States. Special thanks to the Government of Mexico for their help in the capture and extradition of Cardenas-Guillen.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



Updated May 19, 2022

Drug Trafficking