Federal Grand Jury in Chicago Indicts Five Alleged Associates of Sinaloa Cartel on Drug Trafficking Charges

Federal Grand Jury in Chicago Indicts Five Alleged Associates of Sinaloa Cartel on Drug Trafficking Charges

A federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted five suspected associates of the Sinaloa Cartel on drug trafficking charges for allegedly conspiring to distribute cocaine in the Chicago area.  One defendant was recently extradited to the United States to face the charges.

Charged with conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute are ROBERTO VELAZQUEZ MARTINEZ, 36, of Santiago Papasquiaro, Mexico; CAMILO ALVAREZ, 44, of Durango, Mexico; JOSE HERNANDEZ RAMIREZ, 36, of Tamaulipas, Mexico; INES CHAVEZ RODRIGUEZ, 36, of Santiago Papasquiaro, Mexico; and LOUIS REYES VELEZ, 44, of Stickney, Ill.

According to a criminal complaint and indictments filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the defendants worked together to attempt to import and distribute cocaine into the United States on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.  The charges allege that Velazquez Martinez traveled to Chicago in 2018 to attempt to arrange a multi-kilogram cocaine shipment with co-conspirators and two other individuals who, unbeknownst to Velazquez Martinez, were confidentially working with U.S. law enforcement.

Reyes Velez was arrested Tuesday in Cicero, Ill.  He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim.  A detention hearing for Reyes Velez is scheduled for this afternoon.  Velazquez Martinez was arrested in October 2019 in Lima, Peru, and was extradited in December 2020 to the United States.  He has pleaded not guilty.  His case is set for a status hearing on March 31, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow.

Alvarez, Hernandez Ramirez, and Chavez Rodriguez are believed to be residing in Mexico.  U.S. warrants for their arrests have been issued.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Robert J. Bell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, and INTERPOL.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron R. Bond and Matthew J. Hernandez.

The investigation was conducted with the support of the Chicago HIDTA and OCDETF Task Forces, which are comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working together to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations.

The public is reminded that an indictment 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.  The drug conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Senior writer at the Chicago Morning Star

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