Agents seize $3.5 million in U.S. currency and massive quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, and .50 caliber ammunition in Otay Mesa


Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

Date: November 24, 2020


SAN DIEGO — Three Mexican nationals suspected of trafficking huge quantities of illicit drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel were charged in federal court today in connection with what is believed to be the largest single seizure of cash, narcotics and ammunition in this district.

Jesus Burgos Arias, Juan Alatorre Venegas, and Jose Yee Perez were arrested on November 20, 2020, as a result of a long-term joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, San Diego Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, targeting associates of the Sinaloa Cartel.

In addition to the arrests, agents seized approximately $3.5 million in bulk U.S. currency, 685 kilograms of cocaine, 24 kilograms of fentanyl, and approximately 20,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition and hundreds of body armor vests at a truck yard in Otay Mesa.

The defendants were charged with a drug trafficking conspiracy in a complaint filed in federal court. They will be transferred from the San Diego Central Jail to federal custody and will be scheduled to make their initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major this week.

This case is part of a five-year investigation led by the Southern District of California, that, in total, has resulted in charges against over 125 people and has had a significant impact on the worldwide operations of the Sinaloa Cartel. This investigation has also offered one of the most comprehensive views to date of the inner workings of one of the world's most prolific, violent and powerful drug cartels. Cartel members and associates were targeted in this massive investigation involving multiple countries, numerous law enforcement agencies around the United States, a number of federal districts and over 250 court-authorized wiretaps in this district alone.

The investigation first began in late 2011 as an investigation of what was at first believed to be a small-scale drug distribution cell in National City and Chula Vista. It became evident that the drugs were being supplied by the Sinaloa Cartel, and the case evolved into a massive multi-national, multi-state probe that resulted in scores of arrests and seizures of 1,397 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2,214 kilograms of cocaine, 17.2 tons of marijuana, 95.84 kilograms of heroin, and $27,892,706 in narcotics proceeds.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The United States is represented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defendant Information

Criminal Case No: 20-mj-5099-BLM

Defendant Number Name Hometown
1 Jesus Burgos Arias Chula Vista, CA
2 Juan Alatorre Venegas Tijuana, Mexico
3 Jose Yee Perez Tijuana, Mexico

Summary Of Charges

Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine.


  • Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • San Diego County Sheriff's Department
  • San Diego Police Department
  • Border Crime Suppression Team
  • San Diego County District Attorney's Office
  • Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations
  • Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol
  • United States Marshals Service
  • Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces
  • Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations
  • Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs