Mexico City, Mexico — Ismael Quintero Arellanes was arraigned before a United States Magistrate in New York last week. The arraignment came after Quintero was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported the arraignment took place before Judge Sanket J. Bulsara at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on an indictment charging him with participating in a large-scale narcotics distribution conspiracy and using one or more firearms in connection with narcotic offenses.
Quintero, who is a Mexican citizen, was arrested in Mexico on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York and subsequently extradited from Mexico to the United States on March 1, 2023. Quintero Arellanes was ordered detained pending trial.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the extradition and arraignment.
“As alleged, the defendant was a top lieutenant and head of security for Rafael Caro Quintero, an infamous drug lord whose violent organization has for decades sent thousands of kilograms of drugs to the United States,” stated United States Attorney Peace.
“Dismantling the leadership of drug trafficking organizations that have wreaked havoc here and abroad is a top priority for our Office,” the DEA said in their statement.
Mr. Peace extended his appreciation to the DEA’s office in Mexico City, the United States Marshals Service, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the Government of Mexico.
“Quintero Arellanes was the executor for RCQ’s narcotics empire responsible for distributing drugs, violence, and death throughout Mexico and the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino.
“This extradition marks another victory for American rule of law in bringing to justice drug traffickers who have caused the most harm in our communities. I commend the men and women who spent tireless hours on this investigation in the pursuit of Justice.”
According to the indictment and court filings, the defendant was a high-ranking member of the Caro Quintero DTO, a violent Mexican drug trafficking organization that was led by Rafael Caro Quintero.
As the leader of the drug trafficking organization, Caro Quintero employed numerous individuals, each of whom played a role to ensure the success of the organization, including “sicarios” or hit men who carried out acts of violence in Mexico such as murder and kidnappings to silence potential witnesses and retaliate against anyone who provided information to law enforcement; security personnel for the leadership of the enterprise; “plaza bosses” who controlled the enterprise’s territories; transporters of narcotics; and money launderers.
Quintero Arellanes served as Caro Quintero’s top lieutenant and head of security. In that role, Quintero Arellanes served as Caro Quintero’s personal bodyguard, relayed messages and orders between Caro Quintero and other members of the organization to facilitate drug trafficking activities, and protected Caro Quintero to enable him to avoid capture.
For his conduct, Quintero Arellanes is charged with participating in an international heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine distribution conspiracy from February 2015 through June 2018 and an international marijuana distribution conspiracy from January 1980 through June 2018, as well as using firearms in relation to his drug trafficking organization.
Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico on July 15, 2022, and is pending extradition to the United States.
The prosecution of Quintero Arellanes is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the DEA.
The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces up to life in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy, Francisco J. Navarro, Erin M. Reid, and Andrew D. Wang are in charge of the prosecution.