Crime and Violence

Mexican authorities detain drug trafficker wanted in United States, pending extradition

Tirso Martínez Sánchez. Photo: U.S. Department of State.
Tirso Martínez Sánchez. Photo: U.S. Department of State.

02/10/14 — Mexico’s Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) arrested drug trafficker Tirso Martínez Sánchez, known as “El Doctor” or “El Futbolista,” on February 2 in the city of León, Guanajuato, though news of his capture was not released until a week later. After a six-month intelligence gathering operation, Federal Police found Martínez in what authorities believe to be his home, detaining him without firing a single shot. According to Mexico’s National Security Commission (Comisión Nacional de Seguridad, CNS), he is being held at the Centro Federal de Readaptación Social No. 1 in the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex) as his case unfolds.

Martínez is wanted in the United States for allegedly trafficking 76 tons of cocaine into the country between 2000 and 2003 and for laundering millions of dollars of drug profits to Mexico, accusations for which a New York District Court filed charges against him in 2004. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs also posted a $5 million (USD) award for information leading to his arrest. Martínez awaits extradition to the United States to face charges of importing, transporting, and distributing drugs for a number of criminal organizations. He is thought to have had connections with high-ranking drug cartel kingpins, having worked for Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the leader of the Juárez Cartel who died in 1997 from complications resulting from a plastic surgery procedure, and for Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the leader of the Beltrán Leyva Organization who died in a shootout with the Mexican military in 2009. Martínez also worked for cartels in Colombia, including with leaders Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía and Diego León Montoya Sánchez who were arrested in 2007, according to Colombia’s District Attorney’s Office (Fiscalía General de la Nación de Colombia).

Martínez’s arrest came just days after Mexican authorities detained Rubén Oseguera González, the son of the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG), Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes. Rubén was considered to be the cartel’s coordinator and principle trafficker of methamphetamine and synthetic drugs.


Mauskopf, Roslynn R. Case 1:04-cr-00874-ERK. Eastern District of New York. September 27, 2004.

“Autoridades federales detienen a Tirso Martínez, un capo buscado por EU.” CNN México. February 9, 2014.

Mosso, Rubén. “Cae el compadre de Amado Carrillo, ‘El Señor de los Cielos.’” Milenio. February 9, 2014.

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforement Affairs. “Narcotics Rewards Program: Tirso Martinez-Sanchez.” U.S. Department of State. Last accessed February 10, 2014. 

Drug Enforcement Agency. “Family Tree: Juarez Cartel, Amado Carrillo-Fuentes.” PBS. Last accessed February 10, 2014.

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