Captured: King of Heroin and Colombian money launderers

José Antonio Medina Arreguín, otherwise known by his alias Don Pepe or as the King of Heroin (el Rey de la Heroína), was arrested in the state of  Michoacán by the Federal Police on Wednesday, March 24. Medina Reguín is believed to be the major trafficker of heroin to the United States, able to transport up to 200 kilograms (equivalent to $12 million USD) across the border per month, according to a section chief of the Federal Police.

The official said that Medina Reguín’s major mode of operating involved hiding small quantities of drugs in modified compartments of vehicles. The vehicles would then enter the United States via normal land route. Though he worked with various drug trafficking organizations, Medina Reguín functioned independently and his operation lacked a concrete structure. The alleged drug kingpin is to be extradited to the United States.

In a separate announcement, the Federal Police declared another hit against organized crime this month. Based on intelligence gathered, the agency broke up a Mexico City meeting between representatives of a Mexican and Colombian cartel. In addition to seizing $1.7 million USD in cash, they apprehended Marcos Iván Espinosa de León and David García, Colombians believed to be important financial intermediaries between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Norte del Valle (North Valley) Cartel. The latter is a Colombian organization responsible for an important part of the cocaine sent to the United States each year.

Espinosa de León (alias Alexander Navarro) is believed to be a major liaison between both organizations and responsible for handling money transfers between them. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) also suspects him of working with Salomón Camacho Mora, an alleged Colombian cartel leader who was among the DOJ’s most wanted until he was arrested in Venezuela this January and subsequently sent to the US to stand trial. García (alias Dagoberto) is an alleged member of the Norte del Valle Cartel who served in the Colombian military for 21 years, reaching the rank of First Sergeant. Authorities say he specializes in electronic money transfers to China and Hong Kong, in addition to regional cash transfers.

Both are said to be highly involved in money laundering operations that are international in scope. In Mexico they receive drug money from the US, and then send it to other countries in South America (such as Venezuela and Colombia) to as far as East Asia. In addition to the two Colombians, the Federal Police apprehended two Mexican nationals responsible for transporting money and linked to the Sinaloa cartel.

Sources:

Collier, Douglas S. “Colombian Cartel Leader Brought to New Jersey to Face Federal Charges.” US Drug Enforcement Administration. News release: February 3, 2010.

De la Luz González, María. “Cae contacto del Cártel de Sinaloa con Colombia.” El Universal. Marzo 25, 2010.

“México arresta al ‘rey de la heroína.’” La Vanguardia.es. Marzo 25, 2010.

Notimex. “Policía Federal captura al Rey de la heroína.” El Universal. Marzo 25, 2010.

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