Monday, June 17, 2024

DEA updates most wanted fugitives list, adding fentanyl traffickers

“El Mencho” and “El Mayo” no longer appear, but the DEA’s most wanted fugitives list is still dominated by Mexicans.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration updated its 10 most wanted list on Tuesday, removing the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, head of a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Authorities have been searching for El Mencho, the leader of the CJNG, for years.
Authorities have been searching for El Mencho, the leader of the CJNG, for years, but he no longer appears on the DEA most-wanted list. (U.S. DEA)

Also off the list is Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, a son of imprisoned former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The DEA’s 10 most wanted fugitives list now includes seven Mexicans, the best known of whom is another of El Chapo’s sons: Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar.

The 40-year-old – a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel faction known as “Los Chapitos” due to the involvement of El Chapo’s sons – is wanted in the U.S. on various drug trafficking charges. A reward of up to US $10 million is on offer for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction.

The six other Mexicans on the DEA’s list – all of whom also allegedly work for the Sinaloa Cartel – are:

  • Óscar Noé “El Panu” Medina González, described by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) as “the principal deputy for Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, a high-level leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, and the day-to-day commander of Guzman Salzar’s and his brothers’ – the Chapitos’ – security apparatus.” He is one of three new entrants to the DEA’s 10 most wanted list.
  • Carlos Omar Félix Gutiérrez, who “allegedly operates clandestine fentanyl laboratories for the Sinaloa Cartel, where fentanyl precursor chemicals imported from China are processed into fully formed fentanyl for subsequent importation into the U.S,” according to the DOS. He was captured in Colombia in March, but remains on the DEA list pending extradition to the United States.
  • Silvano Francisco Mariano, an alleged co-conspirator of Félix Gutiérrez who was also arrested in Colombia and remains in custody in that country.
  • Liborio “El Karateca” Nuñez Aguirre, “a fentanyl trafficker for the Sinaloa Cartel engaged in the movement of vast quantities of fentanyl from Mexico into the U.S. in pill and powder form,” according to the DOS.
  • Luis Javier Benítez Espinoza, another alleged fentanyl trafficker for the Sinaloa Cartel and a new entrant to the DEA’s most wanted list.
  • Alan Gabriel Nuñez Herrera, “another significant Mexican fentanyl trafficker working for the Chapitos,” according to the DOS.

Chinese nationals Kun Jiang, an alleged supplier of fentanyl precursor chemicals with links to the Sinaloa Cartel, and Chuen Yip, an alleged supplier of fentanyl precursor chemicals and anabolic steroids, are also on the DEA’s most wanted list. The former is the third new entrant.

Oscar Noe Medina Gonzalez
Oscar Noé Medina González is believed to be a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel, controlling security for “Los Chapitos” – the sons of former leader Joaquín Guzman – and overseeing day-to-day operation of the group. (U.S. DEA)

Also on the list is Honduran Yulan Adonay “Porky” Archaga Carias, described by the DOS as “the highest-ranking member of MS-13 in Honduras” and the person “responsible for directing the gang’s criminal activities” in that country.

Although they are no longer among the DEA’s 10 most wanted fugitives, the CJNG’s head honcho and veteran Sinaloa Cartel leader “El Mayo” Zambada remain high-level targets of U.S. authorities. A reward of up to US $10 million is on offer for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Oseguera Cervantes, while the figure for the 75-year-old former business partner of El Chapo – who has never been in jail – is $15 million.

The rewards for information leading to the arrest of those two men dwarf the majority of those offered for the capture of the fugitives on the most wanted list, a situation that reflects their power as leaders of two of Mexico’s most profitable and powerful criminal organizations.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in April that the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG pose “the greatest criminal threat the United States has ever faced” given that they are “primarily responsible for driving the drug poisoning epidemic” in the U.S.

El Chapo arrest
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán (center), former head of the Sinaloa Cartel, is led by DEA agents during his extradition in 2017. One of Guzmán’s sons was removed from the updated fugitives list, but another (Iván Archivaldo) remains one of the most-wanted. (U.S. DEA)

Under the Department of State’s Narcotics Reward Program, $10 million is also on offer for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Jesus Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, a “Chapito” also known as “Alfredillo.”

Another “Chapito” – Ovidio Guzmán López – was captured in Sinaloa in January and remains in custody in Mexico. He has been fighting extradition to the United States, even claiming that he is not in fact the son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

With reports from El Financiero, Informador and Proceso  

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