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Press Release

Foreign Nationals Charged with International Drug Trafficking

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

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 6, 2023

SAN DIEGO – Three indictments were unsealed in the Southern District of California today charging 29 individuals with international drug trafficking offenses.

The unsealing of the indictments comes at the same time that the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against nine of the defendants for their ties to the Beltran Leyva Organization, a violent, Mexico-based group involved in trafficking drugs to the United States for over two decades. Please see

“These indictments have neutralized dozens of alleged maritime traffickers and prevented addictive, harmful, and increasingly often deadly drugs from reaching American shores and streets,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Cases like this are critical for disrupting, disabling, and dismantling the sinister and deadly operations of foreign drug trafficking organizations in the United States.”

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message that Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners will use all available measures to investigate and dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCO) responsible for the smuggling, transportation, and distribution of narcotics and illicit proceeds – wherever they attempt to operate” said Chad Plantz, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “HSI San Diego’s sophisticated and global investigation demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to disrupting this TCOs criminal activities. We, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to protecting the United States’ financial infrastructure from bad actors.”

Five related indictments were also unsealed today in the District of Columbia, Central District of California and Northern District of Illinois charging an additional 31 Mexican and foreign nationals with international heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, and marijuana trafficking, bringing the total to 60 charged. Please see Office of Public Affairs | Sixty Foreign Nationals Charged with International Drug Trafficking | United States Department of Justice

“The eight indictments unsealed today charging 60 defendants are the latest installments in the Justice Department’s relentless pursuit of drug trafficking organizations that smuggle illicit narcotics into the United States,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Together with our partners — across the U.S. government and around the world — we will use every tool at our disposal and target every link in the supply chain to dismantle the organizations that flood our communities with deadly narcotics.”

In San Diego, one indictment returned in September 2019, 19CR3736-GPC, charges Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe, Servando Lopez Lopez, and another individual with conspiring to distribute cocaine knowing it would be imported into the United States and a maritime drug conspiracy.

A second indictment returned in April 2023, 23CR0621-BAS, charges Juan Pablo Bastidas Erenas, Bogar Soto Rodriguez, Juvenal Leon Rodriguez, Mario German Beltran Araujo, Ulises Franco Figueroa, Oscar Aleman Meza, and 17 others with the same offenses.

The third indictment returned in April 2023, 23CR0699-GPC, charges Josue De Jesus Estrada Gutierrez, and two others with conspiring to import cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.

OFAC announced sanctions against Iribe, Lopez, Erenas, Soto Rodriguez (under the name Ricardo Estevez Colmenares), Leon Rodriguez, Araujo, Figueroa, Meza, and Gutierrez (under the name Jose De Jesus Estrada Gutierrez) on the same date the indictments were unsealed.

One defendant, Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe, aka Salgado and Musico, 49, is indicted in the Southern District of California , the District of Columbia and the Northern District of Illinois. As alleged in court documents, Gastelum Iribe coordinated deliveries of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States and deliveries of millions of dollars of cash narcotics proceeds from customers in the United States for the Beltran Leyva Organization.

This case is supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua C. Mellor and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison B. Murray. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance.

DEFENDANTS                                             Case Number 19cr3736-GPC                                       

Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe              *All Defendants are from Mexico

   aka “El Musico,”

   aka “Salgado,”

Servando Lopez Lopez

   aka “El Huevo,”

Jose Fernando Zambada Ley

   aka “El Chino”

Case Number 23cr-0621-GPC_

Juan Pablo Bastidas Erenas,

   aka “Payo,”

Ugan Lopez Beltran,

   aka “Kiwuas,”

   aka “Prada,”

Bogar Soto Rodriguez,

   aka “Loco,”

   aka “Tio,”

Juvenal Leon Rodriguez,

   aka “Gallo,”

Arnoldo Villa Sanchez,

   aka “Arnol,”

Mario German Beltran Araujo,

   aka “El Ninon,”

Jose Roberto

     Navarrete Mendoza,

   aka “Mono,”

Cesar Homero

      Magallanes Gonzalez,

   aka “Chayo,”

Ulises Franco Figueroa,

   aka “Charco,”

Elvis Villatoro De La Cruz,

   aka “Yogurt,”

Jesus Alonso Zamora Roman,

   aka “Sobrino,”

Luis Antonio Espeleta Esparza,

   aka “Negro Trailero,”

Jose Misael Macedo Alvarez,

Jose Francisco Osuna Osorio,

   aka “Gabino,”

Eduardo Adalberto Sustaita Castaneda,

   aka “Susto,”

Carlos Antonio

      Pacheco Castaneda,

Jesus Sergio

      Santiago Gonzalez,

   aka “Zucaritas,”

Oscar Aleman Meza,

Lorenzo Mendez Sanchez,

   aka “Lencho,”

Juan Manuel Hernandez Soto,

   aka “Piki,”

   aka “Guero,”

Pedro Rodriguez Moreno,

Francisco Ramon

     Pelaez Luengas,

   aka “Wawis,”

Eduardo Gabriel Ibarra Mone

Case Number 23cr-0699-GPC_

Josue De Jesus

      Estrada Gutierrez,

  aka “Barbas,”

  aka “Barbon,”

Brayan Carrizoza Arredondo,

Alejo Lopez Perez,


International Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 959, 960 and 963

Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine on Board a Vessel - Title 46, U.S.C., Secs. 70503 and 70506(b)

Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances - Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 952, 960 and 963

Maximum penalty: Life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum; $10 million fine


Homeland Security Investigations

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Drug Enforcement Administration

Coast Guard Investigative Service

*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   

Updated December 6, 2023

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS23-1206-Iribe