The alleged leader of a Mexican heroin trafficking organization made his first appearance in federal court in San Diego Wednesday, a day after being extradited to the United States by Mexico.
Jose Rafael “Rafa” Camacho-Ontiveros was among 12 people charged by a federal grand jury in October 2011 with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and conspiring to distribute heroin and launder money.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation in 2010 into a Mexican drug-trafficking organization that spirited heroin across the Southwest border, destined for various cities along the East Coast.
The organization’s preferred smuggling method was to hide the narcotic in the soles of its couriers’ shoes.
In total, DEA agents intercepted 38 phones during the yearlong investigation, resulting in 14 seizures of heroin and money throughout the United States, according to prosecutors.
The case resulted from the work of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency partnership whose principal mission is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of gun-running, narcotics trafficking and money laundering enterprises.
“Greedy drug traffickers are saturating our country with heroin, and the results are devastating,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue those responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States.”
Camacho-Ontiveros, who was flown by the U.S. Marshals Service from Mexico City to Southern California on Tuesday, is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing Friday.
Six of the other alleged members of the criminal organization named in the indictment remain fugitives, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.
–City News Service
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