Drug trafficking fentanyl methamphetamine
Juan Manuel Abouzaid El Bayeh. Photo credit: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

A Mexican national newly designated as a narcotics trafficker is a major player in a cartel responsible for much of the fentanyl and other drugs that make it onto Southern California streets, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Juan Manuel Abouzaid El Bayeh remains a fugitive following the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control labeling him as a trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

He allegedly played a high-level role in facilitating drug shipments and money laundering for the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG).

The violent Mexican drug trafficking organization “is responsible for the majority of the fentanyl, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs” on local streets, Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division, said in a statement.

“Our unwavering mission to disrupt CJNG’s operations was reflected by today’s actions against those that aid and support this global criminal enterprise,” he said.

In June, Mexican authorities blocked Abouzaid El Bayeh’s Mexican bank accounts due to his alleged relationship with the cartel.

In October 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice identified Abouzaid El Bayeh as being linked to CJNG and unsealed a federal drug trafficking indictment against him in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In the case, investigated by the DEA in Los Angeles, he was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, knowing and intending that it would be imported into the U.S.

The indictment alleges that Abouzaid El Bayeh’s activities began around 2012.

The latest Kingpin Act designation marks the Treasury’s 12th action against CJNG, which was designated on April 8, 2015, along with its leader, Nemesio Ruben Oseguera Cervantes (a.k.a. “Mencho”), for playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.

Los Angeles remains one of the major shipping points for Mexican drug cartels, fueling a rise in fentanyl use across the U.S. California leads the nation in methamphetamine conversion labs, according to a federal drug study released Tuesday.

The DEA’s 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment – the agency’s annual publication that outlines threats posed by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs – says that California had more fentanyl seized than any other state in 2019.