Dual U.S./Mexican Citizen Extradited to the United States from Spain to Face Charges Related to Most Potent Fentanyl Seizure
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 21, 2023
SAN DIEGO –Aaron Leib Kobisher, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization based in San Diego and Tijuana, made his first appearance in federal court today following his extradition from Spain to face fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine trafficking charges.
According to publicly filed court documents, the charges relate to multiple seizures, including a June 2021 interception of approximately two kilograms of powdered fentanyl that was linked to Kobisher and his drug trafficking organization. After the fentanyl was tested by the DEA Southwest Laboratory, investigators discovered that it was the most concentrated powdered fentanyl that had been tested to date by the laboratory.
At today’s hearing, the United States moved for detention, arguing that Kobisher was a substantial flight risk. U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven B. Chu scheduled a detention hearing for November 24, 2023, at 10 a.m.
Kobisher is the lead defendant charged in a six-defendant indictment stemming from a long-term investigation. Four others charged in the same indictment were arrested earlier this year. One defendant remains a fugitive.
In court documents, Kobisher was described as an organizer and leader of the drug trafficking organization who coordinated the smuggling of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico to San Diego for distribution in the U.S.
Prosecutors alleged that Kobisher fled to Mexico in November 2022, after several seizures linked to Kobisher and his drug trafficking organization.
Kobisher was arrested in Spain on June 21, 2023. He had boarded a flight in Madrid that was headed to Mexico City, Mexico. After the flight left the gate, Spanish police stopped the aircraft and arrested Kobisher based on an Interpol Diffusion Notice from the United States government. On November 20, 2023, Kobisher was extradited to the United States.
“Fentanyl is deadly in all forms, but one of the seizures in this case packed an extraordinary punch,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Getting fentanyl out of the hands of drug traffickers – especially the most potent versions - no doubt saves many lives. The diligence of law enforcement means our neighborhoods are safer.”
“Drug trafficking is a violent crime, that impacts the safety and security of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly Howe. “The DEA and its partners will continue to work together to disrupt drug trafficking organizations and bring drug traffickers to justice. These organizations must be held accountable for the harm they cause in our communities.”
“Fentanyl continues to be the most significant drug-related concern for Homeland Security Investigations and our partners due to its widespread availability, highly addictive features, and deadly effects,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations San Diego. “The success of this investigation is the result of law enforcement agencies working together to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and holding those accountable for their actions- no matter where they hide.”
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Kobisher.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mokhtari.
DEFENDANT Case Number 23cr0916-JES-1
Aaron Lei Kobisher Age: 34 Mexico
aka “El Kobi”
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Fentanyl and Cocaine –
Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841(a)(1), 846
Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $10 million fine
Criminal Forfeiture – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 853
Drug Enforcement Administration
Homeland Security Investigations
United States Marshals Service
DEA Attaché Madrid, Spain
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations
Department of Justice, Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Media Relations Director Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or Kelly.Thornton@usdoj.gov
Updated November 21, 2023
Press Release Number: CAS23-1121-Kobisher