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Press Release

Alleged Heroin Cell Leader Extradited

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman (619) 546-6717


NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY September 13, 2017


SAN DIEGO – Jose Rafael Camacho-Ontiveros, the alleged leader of a Mexican heroin trafficking organization, was extradited to the United States by Mexico yesterday and made his first appearance in federal court this afternoon.


A federal grand jury in San Diego returned an indictment on October 14, 2011, charging Camacho-Ontiveros and 11 other alleged members of the Mexican heroin trafficking organization. Camacho-Ontiveros was charged with Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. That same day, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest. Six defendants remain fugitives.


In February 2010, Drug Enforcement Administration agents began investigating a Mexican drug trafficking organization that smuggled white heroin across the Southwest Border destined for various cities along the East Coast. The organization’s preferred smuggling method was to place the heroin in the soles of its couriers’ shoes. In total, DEA agents intercepted thirty-eight telephones during this year-long investigation resulting in fourteen heroin and money seizures throughout the United States.


This case is the result of 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 the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.


Acting United States Attorney Alana Robinson stated, “Greedy drug traffickers are saturating our country with heroin, and the results are devastating. We will continue to aggressively pursue those responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States.”


“This country is in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in history,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “This case highlights DEA’s commitment to battling against the people who created this epidemic and have done so out of simple greed.”


Camacho-Ontiveros was flown by the United States Marshals Service from Mexico City to San Diego on September 12, 2017. He was arraigned on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo. The defendant is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing on Friday, September 15 at 9:45 a.m. before Judge Gallo.


DEFENDANT                                                                              Criminal Case No. 11-CR-4701-DMS


Jose Rafael Camacho-Ontiveros, aka Rafa




Count 1: Title 21, United States Code, Section 848(a) – Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise


Count 2: Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846 – Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin


Count 3: Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(2)(A) and (h) – Conspiracy to Commit Money





Drug Enforcement Administration

Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces

Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations

Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs



*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.




Updated September 13, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS17-0913-Camacho