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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Alleged Drug Cartel Leader Charged

Director of Media Relations Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 22, 2021

SAN DIEGO – A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed in San Diego today against alleged Mexican cartel leader Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela in connection with his drug trafficking activities. Valenzuela Valenzuela was also the target of sanctions imposed today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The indictment, returned on September 28, 2018, charges Valenzuela Valenzuela with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation, Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, and Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. On September 28, 2018, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest. Valenzuela Valenzuela remains a fugitive.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Please see https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0367.

Based in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Valenzuela Valenzuela is alleged to be a Sinaloa Cartel plaza boss who traffics fentanyl and other drugs and operates at the direction of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada Garcia (a.k.a. “El Mayo”). Valenzuela Valenzuela allegedly leads a poly-drug smuggling organization responsible for the transportation and importation of multi-ton quantities of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl, from Mexico into the United States.

In addition to Valenzuela Valenzuela, OFAC also designated seven other Mexican nationals for providing material assistance to Valenzuela Valenzuela. Specifically, the individuals include Valenzuela Valenzuela’s right-hand man, Leonardo Pineda Armenta, who is responsible for directing operations for him, and six cartel lieutenants who ultimately report to Valenzuela Valenzuela: Gilberto Martinez Renteria, Jaime Humberto Gonzalez Higuera, Jorge Damian Roman Figueroa, Luis Alberto Carrillo Jimenez, Meliton Rochin Hurtado, and Miguel Raymundo Marrufo Cabrera. Additionally, OFAC designated two companies in Mexico for being owned or controlled by Rochin Hurtado and Marrufo Cabrera.  Specifically, they are Acuaindustria Narciso Mendoza, S.C. de R.L. de C.V. and Club Indios Rojos de Juarez, S.A. de C.V.

“This indictment and the Treasury Department sanctions announced today demonstrate that the Department of Justice, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to target Sinaloa Cartel kingpins who import massive amounts of illegal drugs into the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman. Grossman praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton, the DEA case agents and all law enforcement partners for their excellent work on this case.

Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman also thanked Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Enforcement Operations and the Office of International Affairs, and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for their ongoing assistance in this investigation.

“The DEA will continue to put forth extensive resources to target members of the Sinaloa Cartel, such as Sergio Valenzuela-Valenzuela, who allegedly flood our country with their poisonous drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “This indictment, along with the recent OFAC designation of Valenzuela-Valenzuela and his Sinaloa Cartel associates, is testament that DEA’s targeted financial operations against this cartel are working and will negatively impact their operations.”

This prosecution is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton.

DEFENDANT                                                                                          Case Number: 18CR04222-DMS

Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, aka Gigio                                                      Age: 52           Sinaloa, Mexico

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances for Purpose of Unlawful Importation, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 959, 960 and 963; Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 952, 960 and 963. Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

AGENCIES

Drug Enforcement Administration

Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations

Customs and Border Protection Office of Border Patrol

United States Marshals Service

Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces

Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations

Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs

Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control

Oceanside Police Department

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

National City Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department

San Diego Police Department

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center

Interpol 

*An indictment or complaint is not evidence that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant is presumed innocent until the Government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
CAS21-0922-Valenzuela
Updated September 22, 2021