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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Two Sinaloa Cartel Associates Sentenced for Importing Thousands of Kilograms of Narcotics

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Monday that CORNELIO CAZAREZ MADRID and SINOHE ANTONIO ARAJUO MEZA, both citizens of Mexico, were sentenced today to 38 and 30 years in prison, respectively, in connection with their importation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine into the United States.  The defendants pled guilty to the charges in the Indictment on July 30, 2019, which charged them with conspiring to import and distribute controlled substances into the United States.  U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods imposed today’s sentences.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Madrid and Meza were two prolific drug traffickers who worked with the Sinaloa Cartel to import thousands of kilograms of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine into this country and who relied on brutal violence to protect their drug organization. Today’s sentence sends a message that anyone who participates in the Sinaloa Cartel’s assault on Americans by flooding our communities with poison will be held accountable and will face significant consequences. This Office is committed to addressing the ongoing threat posed to the health and safety of all Americans by the Sinaloa Cartel and every partner in its distribution chain.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, court transcripts, sentencing submissions, and other publicly filed documents:

CORNELIO CAZAREZ MADRID and SINOHE ANTONIO ARAJUO MEZA ran an illicit drug business in coordination with the Sinaloa Cartel — a notorious and violent drug trafficking organization based out of Sinaloa, Mexico.  The defendants sent massive quantities of narcotics to the United States.  Between 2015 and 2016, the defendants and their coconspirators were responsible for trafficking more than 2,000 kilograms of cocaine, more than 130 kilograms of heroin, and more than 300 pounds of methamphetamine.  During the course of the investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) seized approximately 675 kilograms of cocaine, 70 kilograms of heroin, and 26 kilograms of methamphetamine.  As the defendants flooded the United States with dangerous and addictive substances, they and other members of the Cartel made millions of dollars.  The DEA seized $3.4 million in cash through its investigation of the defendants and their coconspirators.

This sprawling drug trafficking operation was not only dangerous in its importation of thousands of kilograms of poison into the United States but also in its use of firearms and violence, including murder, to protect the operation.  Through the course of the investigation, the DEA seized seven guns connected with the defendants’ drug shipments in the United States.  As an example of the violence used by this conspiracy, in April 2015, two Cartel associates exchanged messages with MADRID concerning two individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement (the “Victims”).  One of the Cartel associates then sent MADRID messages showing that the Victims had been brutally murdered and sent MADRID photographs of the Victims shot dead in a pool of blood.

MADRID and MEZA, both 42 and citizens of Mexico, were convicted of one count of conspiracy to import controlled substances and one count of distribution of controlled substances.  In addition to the prison terms, MADRID and MEZA were each additionally sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division, the New York Strike Force, the Hawthorne Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the DEA’s Guatemala Country Office, the DEA’s Costa Rica Country Office, and the DEA’s Bogota Country Office.  Mr. Williams also thanked the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance in securing the extradition of the defendants.

This case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle and Rebekah Donaleski are in charge of the prosecution.

Read more at the Justice Department

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