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Press Release

DEA-Led Operation Nets More Than 600 Arrests Targeting Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
Six Defendants Have Been Prosecuted in Western North Carolina in 2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced the results of Project Python, a DEA-led interagency operation encompassing all global investigations and related disruption activities targeting the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).

This announcement marks the successful conclusion of six months of investigative and enforcement activity targeting CJNG, culminating in large scale arrests throughout the country within the past week.  Project Python has resulted more than 600 arrests, 350 indictments, as well as significant seizures of money and drugs.

In 2020, within Western North Carolina, six defendants have been prosecuted to date, in connection with the initiative:

  • Jose Velasquez, 35, a Mexican national residing in Charlotte, N.C., has been charged with drug trafficking conspiracy; international money laundering; possession with intent to distribute heroin; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Johnny Michael Boone, Jr., 33, of Bessemer City, N.C., has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
  • Jose Rigoberto Rodriquez-Rangel, 21, of Durham, N.C., has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; and possession with intent to distribute heroin. He is currently awaiting sentencing.  
  • Jose Dolorez Martinez-Martines, 32, a Mexican national residing in Durham, N.C., has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy; and possession with intent to distribute heroin. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
  • Oscar Bello-Lopez, 33, a Mexican national residing in Charlotte, has been sentenced to 188 months in prison and five years of supervised release, for drug trafficking conspiracy; money laundering conspiracy; possession with intent to distribute heroin; possession of a firearm by a felon; illegal reentry by a felon.
  • Otequise Lenard Miller, 34, of Concord, N.C., has been sentenced to 240 months in prison and five years of supervised release for drug trafficking conspiracy resulting in death; money laundering conspiracy; distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

“Project Python marks the most comprehensive action to date in the Department of Justice’s campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately destroy CJNG,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division.  “When President Trump signed an Executive Order prioritizing the dismantlement of transnational criminal organizations, the Department of Justice answered the call and took direct aim at CJNG.  We deemed CJNG one of the highest-priority transnational organized crime threats we face.  And with Project Python, we are delivering results in the face of that threat for the American people.” 

“Project Python is the single largest strike by U.S. authorities against CJNG, and this is just the beginning,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “This strategic and coordinated project exemplifies DEA’s mission: to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug trafficking organizations around the world and bring their leaders to justice.  Today, DEA has disrupted CJNG’s operations, and there is more to come as DEA continues its relentless attack on this remorseless criminal organization.”

“This ruthless Mexican cartel has evolved into a powerful drug syndicate that floods urban and rural communities in the Western District and throughout our nation with enormous quantities of powerful narcotics. My office and our law enforcement partners remain committed to bringing members of this drug trafficking organization to justice, and disrupting CJNG’s drug trafficking networks in Western North Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.  

“This DEA-led multilateral and interagency operation resulted in a well-planned and coordinated assault against CJNG, which is one of the most prolific producers of methamphetamine in the world. CJNG is responsible for an enormous quantity of dangerous drugs destined for the U.S. and much of the violence in Mexico today. This strategic strike against this Mexico-based cartel is just the beginning of an all-out assault against this ruthless organization,” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.

The Justice Department and its law enforcement partners are committed to fulfilling the President’s Executive Order 13773 to identify, interdict, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations.  The department designated CNJG as one of the top transnational criminal groups targeted as part of carrying out this executive order, and DEA instituted Project Python to support this ongoing effort. 

CJNG is one of the fastest growing transnational criminal organizations in Mexico, and among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world.  It is responsible for a significant proportion of drugs entering the United States, and elevated levels of violence in Mexico.  With methamphetamine abuse and overdose deaths on the rise, Project Python aims to disrupt CJNG’s ability to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs throughout the United States by attacking the group at all levels. 

Federal law enforcement has taken a number of steps to degrade CJNG’s ability to operate in the United States.  Today, the Justice Department and DEA announced a superseding indictment on charges of alleged continuing criminal enterprise against Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes, also known as “El Mencho,” the undisputed leader of CJNG.  Last month, El Mencho’s son, Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, also known as “Menchito,” and second in command of CJNG, was extradited from Mexico to the United States on charges of alleged drug trafficking and firearm use in relation to drug trafficking activities.  On Feb. 26, 2020, El Mencho’s daughter, Jessica Johanna Oseguera Gonzalez, was arrested in the United States on financial charges related to her alleged criminal violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Additionally, DEA has worked with its interagency partners to apply further pressure to CJNG.  The U.S. Department of Treasury has designated El Mencho as a “specially designated narcotics trafficker” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, and the U.S. Department of State has issued one of the largest narcotics rewards ever – $10 million – for information leading to the arrest of El Mencho.  

The efforts highlighted in the more than 600 arrests nationwide are illustrative of the significant reach the CJNG has in manufacturing, importing and distributing a wide array of illegal narcotics within the United States and the negative impact on the fabric of our local communities.  The proceeds from the local distribution of these narcotics are repatriated back to Mexico and further fuel transnational organized criminal organizations such as the CJNG.  The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously fight this scourge against the United States. 

The Department of Justice’s multi-agency Special Operations Division, federal prosecutors from the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department’s Criminal Division, the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Enforcement Operations provided invaluable support to this operation.

In Western North Carolina, U.S. Attorney Murray thanked the DEA in Charlotte, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Gastonia Police Department, the Gaston County Police Department, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for their investigation of the cases, which are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

The cases in Western North Carolina are the result of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated March 12, 2020

Drug Trafficking