Drug Cartel Leader Convicted
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 25, 2018
SAN DIEGO – Major Mexican drug cartel leader Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, aka Cadete, pleaded guilty in federal court today, following his arrest by United States law enforcement at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on October 11, 2017.
Quintero Navidad, 36, pleaded guilty to all charges in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in San Diego on September 22, 2017, charging him with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation, Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, and Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments. Quintero Navidad is the cousin of fugitive Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero and the associate of high-ranking Mexican cartel leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, aka Mayo. He is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leaders to be arrested in the United States.
In August 2014, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Quintero Navidad as a “Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker,” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. As part of that designation, OFAC identified Quintero Navidad as a Mexico-based narcotics trafficker who coordinated the transportation of ton quantities of cocaine from South America through Mexico and onto the United States.
In a proceeding today before U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo, Quintero Navidad accepted responsibility for his role as a leader within a drug trafficking organization based in Mexico, acknowledging that he organized the transportation and distribution of hundreds of kilograms of controlled substances, including cocaine and heroin, for importation from Mexico into the United States. Quintero Navidad also admitted to laundering thousands of dollars of U.S. currency, which represented the proceeds of the importation and distribution of drugs within the United States back to Mexico. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 20, 2018 at 9 a.m. before Judge Bencivengo.
“Quintero Navidad’s guilty plea today sends a clear message to other drug kingpins operating in Mexico. There is no place to hide because our federal team will work tirelessly to hunt you down to face justice in our courts,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “Our investigation and prosecution of other high-level cartel members is continuing and is having a significant impact on the global operations of the Mexican drug cartels.”
“Today’s guilty plea is an example of the great partnership of HSI Calexico and other federal law enforcement agencies, who worked diligently to bring this case to prosecution,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge of HSI in San Diego. “HSI will continue to investigate, disrupt, and ultimately dismantle these drug trafficking organizations who continue to engage in violent criminal activity.”
“The importance of this plea is twofold: One, drug traffickers will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law; and two, it sends the message to the other members of this violent drug trafficking organization that they are next,” said DEA San Diego Acting SAC Steve Woodland. “This is a major blow to this international drug trafficking organization and DEA will continue to investigate its members.”
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 the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
The indictment in this case marks the conclusion of the initial phase of a multi-year OCDETF investigation. This joint Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation targeted the leadership elements, lieutenants, associates, and money launderers connected with the Rafael Caro-Quintero (RCQ) Drug Trafficking Organization and Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).
U.S. Attorney Braverman praised the outstanding work of the federal team from HSI Calexico/DEA Imperial County in the culmination of this investigation. U.S. Attorney Braverman also thanked U.S. 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 government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton.
DEFENDANT Case Number 17CR2976-CAB
Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, aka Cadete Age: 36 Mexico City, 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, $10,000,000 fine and 5 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, $10,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release.
Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Term of custody up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved, and 5 years of supervised release.
Homeland Security Investigations
Drug Enforcement Administration
Department of Homeland Security, Joint Task Force – Investigations
Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations
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 Assets Control
Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations
El Centro Police Department
Brawley Police Department
Imperial County District Attorney’s Office
Imperial Valley, Law Enforcement Coordination Center