Texas grand jury indicts Sinaloa cartel leaders

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 3:54pm

A U.S. federal grand jury in Texas has indicted the suspected top leaders of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia face murder and conspiracy charges connected with drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime.

The indictment, returned April 11 and unsealed Tuesday, also charges 22 other people who prosecutors allege are connected with the cartel.

"For years, their violence, ruthlessness and complete disregard for human life and the rule of law have greatly impacted the citizens of the Republic of Mexico and the United States," U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement. "They must be held accountable for their criminal actions."

Federal prosecutors said this month's indictment in western Texas details two acts of violence committed by members of the cartel: the 2009 kidnapping, killing and mutilation of a Texas resident "to answer for the loss of a 670-pound load of marijuana seized by the Border Patrol" and the 2010 kidnapping, torture and murder of an American citizen and two members of his family during a wedding ceremony in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The target was the groom and a resident of Columbus, New Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said in a statement.

Guzman and Zambada have been indicted on drug trafficking and organized crime charges in a number of U.S. federal courts. U.S. officials have offered a $5 million reward for information leading to their capture.

Guzman was arrested in 1993 on homicide and drug charges but escaped in 2001, reportedly by bribing prison guards to smuggle him out in a laundry truck. A Mexican federal investigation led to the arrest of more than 70 prison officials.

Forbes magazine has placed him on its list of the world's most powerful people, reporting his net worth of $1 billion as of March.

The Sinaloa Cartel, named after the Mexican Pacific Coast state where the gang was formed, is one of the most powerful drug-trafficking groups in the nation.


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