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Press Release

La Familia Michoacán Drug Cartel Leader Sentenced to 43 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas
Twelve Federal Officers were Tortured and Killed in Retaliation for Minsa’s Capture

DALLAS — “La Familia Michoacán” (LFM) Mexican drug cartel leader, Arnoldo Rueda-Medina, aka “La Minsa,” 48, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade to serve a total of 520 months in federal prison and a $5 million fine for offenses related to his leadership role within LFM.  LFM was responsible for trafficking thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine into the United States and delivered to stash locations in the Northern District of Texas and elsewhere. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.

Rueda-Medina pleaded guilty in September 2017 to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.  Judge Kinkeade sentenced Rueda-Medina to 520 months in federal prison on the drug conviction and 240 months in federal prison on the money laundering conviction, to run concurrently.  Rueda-Medina was arrested in Michoacán, Mexico on July 11, 2009, and was extradited to the United States on January 27, 2017. 

“Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of our United States law enforcement team and the critical assistance and sacrifice of our Mexican counterparts, a notorious drug cartel leader is where he should be --behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “My office will continue to devote our time, energy, focus and expertise to helping disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations with our law enforcement partners in the United States and abroad to stem the flow of deadly drugs into our country and stop the violence inflicted by people like Rueda-Medina.”

“High ranking cartel figures operating in the North Texas area will not be tolerated,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge, Clyde E. Shelley Jr.  “The DEA and the US Attorney’s Office are working around the clock to combat the massive amount of drugs brought into the United States as a result of the direct actions of Arnoldo Rueda-Medina, aka “La Minsa,” and the continuing threat posed to our communities by the remnants of the LFM.”

On February 25, 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Rueda-Medina under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) for his involvement in drug trafficking.  The Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, owned or controlled by significant foreign narcotics traffickers, as identified by the President.  The Act also prohibits U.S. citizens and companies from doing any kind of business activity with Rueda-Medina, and it virtually froze all of his assets in the United States.

According to plea documents, from September 2007 through October 21, 2009, Rueda-Medina held a leadership position within LFM, a Mexican drug cartel and organized crime syndicate based in the Mexican State of Michoacán. LFM was responsible for trafficking methamphetamine into the United States through border checkpoints near Laredo, Texas and Tijuana, Mexico. 

Rueda-Medina was arrested on July 11, 2009, by Mexican Law Enforcement.  After his arrest, members of LFM attempted to free him, and although unsuccessful, a shootout ensued through the streets of Morelia, Michoacan.  LFM operatives subsequently attacked several other locations and Federal Police Officers.  In response, law enforcement deployed personnel to various locations throughout the state of Michoacan.  On July 13, 2009, a group of 12 officers were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.  A note found at the scene where the bodies were dumped stated “Vengan por otro, los estamos esperando” (“Come for another, we are waiting for you”).  At least four other officers and two Mexican Marines were killed by LFM operatives responding to the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda-Medina.   Several others were wounded.    

According to plea documents, LFM used a sophisticated network of individuals in Mexico and the United States to distribute the methamphetamine in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and to collect proceeds from the methamphetamine sales.  The drug proceeds that were collected were delivered to cartel members or associates in Mexico either by way of bulk cash smuggling in vehicles utilized by LFM couriers or through money remitters such as Western Union. 

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dallas Police Department, Garland Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) provided special assistance.   The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also assisted in the extradition of the defendant to the United States to face charges.  The Government of Mexico assisted in the investigation and in securing the extradition of Rueda-Medina to the United States.       

This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The principal mission of OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

OCDEFT and Narcotics Section Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert and Assistant U.S. Attorney George Leal prosecuted the case. 


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Lisa Slimak

Updated April 11, 2018

Drug Trafficking