Last week, United States and Mexican law enforcement announced significant enforcement actions against a prolific transnational drug trafficking organization operating in Nogales, Sonora, along the U.S.-Mexico border.
After extensive bilateral cooperation between the United States and Mexico, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office, Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) – conducted a significant enforcement operation on June 23, 2023, to dismantle a prolific transnational drug trafficking organization operating in Nogales, Sonora, along the U.S.–Mexico border. The operation resulted in the arrest of five people and the seizure of 120,000 fentanyl pills, 15 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 15 pounds of cocaine, 3 assault rifles, one 9mm handgun, and a vehicle.
In addition, seven U.S.-based coordinators and operators with alleged ties to the same drug-trafficking organization have been arrested and indicted in the United States. Gerardo Bernal-Mazon, 29, Ashley Bernal, 31, Jessica Yesenia Valenzuela, 32, and Delyanira Lovio, 29, all of Nogales, Arizona, Juan Murillo, 48, of Rio Rico, Arizona, and Lilian Sugey Siegfried, 38, of Tucson, Arizona, were indicted by a federal grand jury on drug trafficking charges on February 2, 2023. George Armenta-Vasquez, 45, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 25, 2023.
“Transnational drug trafficking organizations pose an unprecedented public safety threat to both the United States and Mexico,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These coordinated law enforcement actions demonstrate the success our countries can have when we work together to meet that threat.”
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – Nogales led the investigation in the United States, in concert with the DEA Mexico City Country Office, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – Nogales, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Tucson. Support from DEA–Mexico City Country Office and FGR’s Agencia de Investigación Criminal (AIC) was critical in providing coordination between United States and Mexican law enforcement agencies. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, is prosecuting the seven individuals named above.