San Diego

High Ranking Mexican Cartel Leader Sees First Day in Court

A high ranking Mexican drug cartel leader was arraigned on drug trafficking charges October 11, immediately after his arrest at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, also known as Cadete, is believed to be the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leader arrested in the U.S., according to the U.S. Office of Attorney for the Southern District of California.

Quintero Navidad was identified in 2014 for coordinating the trafficking of tons of cocaine from South America to Mexico and into the U.S., according to a statement from the U.S. Office of Attorney.

On September 22, Quintero Navidad was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances intended for importation, conspiracy to import controlled substances, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, according to the statement.

When Quintero Navidad was arrested on October 11 a federal judge arraigned him for the charges against him that same day.

“Today is yet another reminder that there is no place to hide because the Southern District of California, along with out law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue and prosecute international drug kingpins who for years profited from the shipment and sale of illegal drugs,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson on the day Quintero Navidad was arrested.

Quintero Navidad was listed as a “Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker” in 2014 by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, in accordance with the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

The Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration targeted leadership of the Rafael Caro-Quintero and Beltran Leyva Organization as part in a multi-year investigation into money laundering, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney.

“The arrest of Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad is a result of outstanding investigative work by HSI special agents in Calexico, in collaboration with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners,” said Dave Shaw, the special agent in charge of HSI in San Diego.  

Quintero Navidad faces up to life imprisonment for the charges against him. 

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