Mexican drug traffickers charged with conspiring to import large quantities of narcotics into the United States based on seizure of 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills

 

Date: February 5, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Jose Loreto Gastelum‑Torres and Fredy Alejandro Gastelum‑Vega were charged in a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills into the United States. The charge arises from a January 29, 2021, seizure by Mexico's Secretaría de Marina (the "Mexican Navy") of approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 fentanyl pills in Sinaloa, Mexico.

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in federal court[1]:

On or about January 29, 2021, the Mexican Navy located and began tracking an outboard‑powered boat traveling from Las Arenitas, Sinaloa, Mexico, northwest through the Gulf of California. Approximately several hours later, the Mexican Navy interdicted the vessel in or around Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico, and arrested Gastelum‑Torres and Gastelum‑Vega. Mexican Navy officers seized approximately 960 plastic containers from the boat, which contained approximately 2.5 tons of methamphetamine and 100,000 pills of fentanyl.

Gastelum‑Torres and Gastelum‑Vega, of Mexico, are each charged with conspiring to import at least 500 grams of methamphetamine and at least 400 grams of fentanyl into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces ("OCDETF") Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

This investigation was conducted by the OCDETF New York Strike Force in partnership with the DEA's law enforcement partners. The Strike Force is affiliated with the DEA's New York Division and includes agents and officers of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, DEA, NYPD, New York State Police, HSI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department, and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The case is being handled by the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander Li, Benjamin Woodside Schrier, and Kyle A. Wirshba are in charge of the prosecution.

The charge contained in the Complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.