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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

High-ranking Sinaloa Cartel Member Admits To Drug Trafficking And Violence

Agrees To Forfeit $1 Million In Illicit Proceeds

SAN DIEGO – Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, also known as “Chino Antrax,” pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that as a high-level member of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel he and his co-conspirators coordinated the transportation of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the United States and ordered or participated in cartel-related violence. He also agreed to forfeit $1 million in drug-trafficking proceeds.

Arechiga-Gamboa, 34, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana into the United States. Arechiga-Gamboa faces a maximum term of life in prison when he is sentenced on October 16, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Sabraw.

According to his plea agreement, Arechiga-Gamboa admitted that the Sinaloa Cartel uses violence and threats to intimidate rival cartels, and that he himself was “a direct participant in, and communicated to other members of the Sinaloa Cartel, orders to commit acts of violence or threats of violence.”

As set forth in an indictment in a related case, the Sinaloa Cartel operates across multiple continents and countries, importing large quantities of narcotics into Mexico from Asia and Central and South American countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.

The Sinaloa Cartel moves drugs by land, air, and sea, including cargo aircraft, private aircraft, submarines and other submersible and semi-submersible vessels, container ships, supply vessels, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, trucks, automobiles, and private and commercial interstate and foreign carriers, according to the indictment.

Those narcotics are then smuggled across the international border to San Diego via automobiles, tractor trailers, trucks, fishing vessels and tunnels and stored at various stash houses, safe houses and warehouses in San Diego County. The narcotics are transported and distributed from there to locations throughout the United States.

“Chino Antrax is one of the highest-ranking Sinaloa Cartel kingpins ever prosecuted in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “While we know that the world’s most powerful drug syndicate continues to operate, we also know that it is under intense pressure after a succession of high-impact, high-profile arrests and indictments of the organization’s highest-ranking players.”

“This plea today marks the end of a reign of terror that this particular violent enforcement arm of the Sinaloa Cartel has inflicted on innocent people both in Mexico and the United States,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, aka: Chino Antrax was the head of this violent group under the powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Once again, DEA commits to hunting down the remaining members of this weakening cartel and making sure the public is safe from any more drug related violence.”

Arechiga-Gamboa’s arrest and guilty plea come in spite of significant efforts by him to elude capture.

A federal grand jury in San Diego returned an indictment on December 20, 2013, charging Arechiga-Gamboa with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation and Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances. That same day, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest.

Arechiga-Gamboa was arrested on December 30, 2013, at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands at the request of the United States. Arechiga-Gamboa was taken into custody at the airport traveling under a fraudulent name, “Norberto Sicairos-Garcia,” as he deplaned a KLM flight from Mexico City, Mexico to Amsterdam. The United States made formal requests for assistance from foreign authorities via a provisional arrest warrant and an Interpol Red Notice.

According to formal documents filed in support of Arechiga-Gamboa’s extradition from the Netherlands, Arechiga-Gamboa is alleged to have worked for the Sinaloa Cartel as a bodyguard and the leader of an enforcement group called “Los Antrax.” In this position, he assisted the Sinaloa Cartel by providing security for narcotics shipments and conducting enforcement operations.

According to extradition documents, Arechiga-Gamboa later rose to become one of the highest-level leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. Despite traveling under a fraudulent Mexican passport by assuming the identity of a deceased individual, undergoing significant plastic surgery and attempting to alter his fingerprints, U.S. law enforcement officials were able to confirm Arechiga-Gamboa’s identity through forensic techniques. A Dutch Court considered the extradition request and, on May 28, 2014, ordered that Arechiga-Gamboa be extradited to the United States to stand trial on the narcotics trafficking offenses. Arechiga-Gamboa was extradited to the United States on July 11, 2014 and arrived at San Diego International airport under heavy security.

The investigation and prosecution of Arechiga-Gamboa was conducted by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, along with federal law enforcement from numerous other agencies. It was also conducted in close coordination with DEA agents in Chicago and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.


DEFENDANT   Case Number: 13-CR-4517-DMS
Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, aka “Chino Antrax,”
aka “Norberto Sicairos-Garcia”
Age: 34  
 
CHARGES

Conspiracy to Import 5 kilograms and more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms and more of marijuana into the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 952, 960 and 963.

Maximum Penalties: Life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years; a maximum $10 million fine; forfeiture of all property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained as a result of the violation and all property used or intended to be used to commit the violation.

 
INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Drug Enforcement Administration
Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations
Customs and Border Protection Office of Border Patrol
Internal Revenue Service
United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois
Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control
Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs
Interpol

Updated July 23, 2015