CHICAGO — A former high-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico was arraigned today on federal drug charges following his extradition from Mexico. The defendant, FELIPE CABRERA SARABIA, was charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, one count of conspiracy to import into the United States cocaine and heroin, and distribution of heroin, in an indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury in January 2012.
Cabrera Sarabia, 50, was brought to the United States on June 12, 2020, after Mexican courts ordered him extradited on the three counts of the Indictment. He remains in federal custody after pleading not guilty this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in Federal Court in Chicago.
According to the Indictment, from at least May 2005 until December 2008, Cabrera Sarabia conspired with other Sinaloa Cartel members to transport multi-ton quantities of illegal drugs into the United States. Cabrera Sarabia is one of more than 20 members of the Sinaloa or Beltran-Leyva drug cartels to be charged in federal court in Chicago. The investigation has resulted in seizures of approximately $30.8 million, approximately eleven tons of cocaine, 265 kilograms of methamphetamines, and 78 kilograms of heroin.
The developments were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Robert J. Bell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Valuable assistance was provided by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erika L. Csicsila and Andrew C. Erskine.
The conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life in prison. The conspiracy to import cocaine and heroin count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the distribution of heroin count carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum penalty of life in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.