Atlanta

Mexico-based drug cartel leaders indicted in Atlanta federal court

ATLANTA — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that leaders of a Mexico-based drug cartel, the La Nueva Familia Michoacana, were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and import heroin into the United States.

The cartel leaders who were indicted by a federal grand jury, Rodolfo Maldonado-Bustos, a.k.a. “Don Jose,” and Euclides Camacho-Goicochea, a.k.a. “El Quilles,” faced their charges in a federal court.

According to USDOJ, the cartel members were accused of importing “massive amounts of heroin from Mexico to the Atlanta area and elsewhere in the United States.”

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U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said the indictments came alongside “the recent imposition of OFAC sanctions send a strong message that our office, in coordination with our law enforcement partners, will relentlessly investigate, prosecute, and defund individuals around the globe who import deadly drugs into our communities.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was in Atlanta Thursday to announce the new sanctions as part of a multi-agency effort to prevent the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

According to Buchanan, the indictments against Maldonado-Bustos and Camacho-Goicochea stem from an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration which began in September 2016, when agents worked with the Internal Revenue Service to look into how certain La Nueva Familia Michoacana cartel members were allegedly importing heroin, cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. and Georgia.

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Maldonado-Bustos is said to have been coordinating the manufacturing of large quantities of heroin in Mexico, including the direct harvest of gum from opium fields, before finishing the production process and working with conspirators in Mexico to import the drugs in Atlanta and Houston, Texas, USDOJ said.

Funds from the sale of those drugs were then funneled back to Mexico by Camacho-Goicochea, USDOJ said. In 2017, agents seized more than $580,000 in drug proceeds from vehicles and homes in the Atlanta area.

Justice officials said Maldonado-Bustos and Camacho-Goicochea were both indicted in August 2017, but the indictments were only recently unsealed.

While both men were indicted on conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to import heroin into the U.S., Camacho-Goicochea was also indicted for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

“These actions demonstrate that in addition to holding cartel leaders accountable for their crimes, we are working together with our partners at the Treasury Department to hit the cartels’ criminal operations where it hurts the most – their profits,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “We will continue to mobilize a whole-of-government effort to disrupt the cartels profiting from the drug trafficking and human smuggling that devastate communities and endanger our national security.”

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