The Department of Justice (DOJ) has validated the information given in the trial of an operator of the Sinaloa Cartel in an Indiana court: that one of the sons of Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman ordered kidnap and murder three men in Mexico in 2016 for the seizure of 2.4 million dollars in this country.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office does not mention the name of that son of ‘El Chapo’, but in the accusations the only one who has been attributed deaths so far is Ovidio Guzman Lopez, who became infamous in 2019 for the disastrous military operation in Culiacán that ended with his surprise release.
“Other information indicates that Ovidio Guzmán López has ordered the murder of informants, a drug trafficker and a popular Mexican singer who refused to sing at his wedding,” describes the file prepared by the US State Department offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
A similar amount was established for the arrest of his three brothers Joaquín Guzmán López, as well as Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar.
In the trial and appeal case of Héctor Saul Castro Aguirre, the former head of a Pennsylvania cartel cell who was sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering, it was revealed that “Joaquín Guzmán’s son was behind the murder” in 2016 of Angel Barrios Moreno, who directed operations to cross drugs across the border between Sonora and Arizona.
Two men who accompanied him were also kidnapped and killed: his nephew Adrian Barrios Moreno and your friend Luis Carlos Cebrero Alvarez, according to witness statements.
It is possible that Ángel Barrios Moreno is the “drug trafficker” that, according to the US government, Ovidio Guzmán ordered to be killed.
“The cartel does not forgive”
These crimes are linked to a seizure of 2.4 million dollars in cash that the cartel obtained for the delivery of 100 kilos of cocaine in Reading, Pennsylvania, where Castro Aguirre had a group.
The drug reached the hideouts of that trafficker, but the transporters of the ‘Chapitos’ were detained by police near the border of the states of Illinois and Missouri. They took the money to a safe house in Arizona, then sent the cash to Mexico. Castro Aguirre and his accomplices received “on credit” between 10 and 100 kilos of cocaine.
For this reason, Barrios Moreno ended up indebted to Guzmán’s children and did not pay them on time. They collected the debt when he traveled from Nogales to Sinaloa. He and his companions were captured by cartel gunmen and They demanded a ransom of $500,000. Castro Aguirre mobilized to collect money and drugs, managed to collect $250,000 and sent it to a member of the cartel in New York.
“Despite these efforts, the cartel eventually killed Barrios Moreno, along with the other two men they had captured,” Castro Aguirre’s appeal case describes.
“They did it because Barrios Moreno did not pay a debt with the cartel after law enforcement officers seized a large shipment of drugs,” it said. “The cartel does not forgive.”
The accusation against a ‘Chapito’
Yesenia Samaniego, a woman who was a member of his drug distribution group, testified at Castro Aguirre’s trial. She recounted how she raised $250,000 in “a relatively short time” trying to prevent Barrios Moreno and the other two men from being killed.
She said she feared that the Sinaloa Cartel would assassinate her if she returned to Mexico and that is why she agreed to collaborate with the US government.
Photographs of the three corpses that were published in a journalistic note and of the tomb of Barrios Moreno were shown to the jury.
Yesenia Samaniego’s husband, Jesús Samaniego, another cartel distributor, also testified. Both said they had made trips from Arizona to Indianapolis, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“The government asked Jesus if he knew who killed Barrios Moreno and Jesus replied that the son of Joaquín (‘El Chapo’) Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was behind the murder,” describes a document that a panel of judges submitted at the end of 2020 denying Castro Aguirre’s appeal.
Shortly after Jesús Samaniego testified, several members of the jury expressed that they feared that something would be done to them “because we have talked about the cartel and things like that”; and asked whether Castro Aguirre and the other defendants would have access to their personal information.
Another witness in the trial was Julio César Cebrero Álvarez, a taxi driver from Nogales who was hired to transport Castro Aguirre and Barrios Moreno. His brother, Luis Carlos, was one of the three victims.
He told the jury that he made a trip from Nogales to Sinaloa with several people, including Barrios Moreno, his nephew and his brother. At first he went with Barrios Moreno, while his brother and Barrios Moreno’s nephew traveled in another vehicle.
At some point, Barrios Moreno preferred to travel with the other two and Cebrero Álvarez was left alone in the car. He called them periodically to see how they were doing, until they stopped answering him. This led him to visit Barrios Moreno’s wife, who told him that her sister-in-law had just informed him that her husband and the others they had been kidnapped.
The taxi driver said that police informed him that they had found three bodies and asked him to come and identify them. When he was 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the place where they would meet, Cebrero Álvarez turned around “because he was ‘afraid that maybe it was a setup’ and that they would kill him too”.
This criminal case was mentioned by the Department of Justice in a motion filed a few days ago to justify that ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán should spend another year under the strict prison regime for terrorists, called SAMs, in the ADX Florence maximum security prison, in Colorado.
“For Guzmán, violence is a family affair. Four of his sons, known as the ‘Chapitos’, have been indicted for their roles in the cartel, but remain at large… Two sons run a cartel cell… Another son is responsible for murder… A cousin was Guzmán’s ‘lieutenant’ and ‘right hand’ in the cartel”, mention the prosecutors in the motion submitted on June 15.
For its part, the government stated that federal agents check every word that Guzmán writes in letters to his sister Bernarda, fearing that it includes a hidden message addressed to his children.
“After all, Guzmán’s sister is not just his sister, she is the aunt of the ‘Chapitos’”, warns the Prosecutor in the motion.
“There is ample information to justify the attorney general’s conclusion that no statement by Guzmán can be taken as benign and that each must be reviewed with rigorous scrutiny to fully assess its potential impact on Guzmán’s network of accomplices and ‘hit men’.” , he adds.
Castro Aguirre, who was an operator of ‘Los Chapitos’, was mentioned in a federal indictment along with three drug traffickers: Rafael Rojas Reyes, John Ramírez Prado and Jose Manuel Carrillo Tremillo.
They were accused of cross the border with drugs, with the help of the murdered Barrios Moreno, to later deliver shipments in Arizona, California, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. They also sent the illicit proceeds to the children of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán in Mexico.
Federal prosecutors allege they were responsible for distributing at least 200 pounds of methamphetamine and 20 kilograms of cocaine, worth up to $9 million, in Indianapolis. They also sold 390 kilos of cocaine, valued at up to $40 millionin other states.
As a result of the investigation that led to a prison, the police were able to seize more than 90 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 kilos of cocaine and $2.5 million cash.
All four defendants were found guilty by a jury in August 2018.
Castro Aguirre is serving a life sentence at the Beaumont USP prison in Texas.