The Mexican leader of a transnational drug trafficking organization arrived in Los Angeles Friday after being extradited from Mexico to face federal charges that he conspired to transport cocaine worth hundreds of millions of dollars from South America to the United States.
Angel Humberto Chavez-Gastelum, 47, who was initially arrested by Mexican authorities in November 2018 in Querétaro, Mexico, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles on charges contained in a 22-count indictment that accuses him of being the principal manager of a narcotics enterprise, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Chavez-Gastelum — who has been designated by the U.S. government as one of the world’s most-wanted drug traffickers — allegedly controlled a drug distribution network with supply routes that brought cocaine from Colombia into Central America, then to Mexico, with a final destination of the U.S.
During the investigation into the organization, law enforcement authorities around the world seized about 7,700 pounds of cocaine, with a potential U.S. street value of $500 million, according to federal prosecutors.
The indictment charges Chavez-Gastelum with 12 offenses, including drug trafficking, drug importation and money laundering. He is also charged with being the principal leader of a continuing criminal enterprise, an offense that carries a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison.
Chavez-Gastelum is also charged with two murders on July 7, 2017, committed in connection with the alleged continuing criminal enterprise and related drug offenses.
The investigation in this case has led to the arrests of co-conspirators on three continents. The alleged Colombian leader of the organization, Victor Hugo Cuellar-Silva, was captured and extradited to the U.S. in September 2018.
Chavez-Gastelum is the lead defendant in the indictment that charges a total of 47 defendants. With Chavez-Gastelum’s expected court appearance, a total of 22 defendants will have been arraigned in this case.
A trial in this case was previously scheduled for March 15, 2022.