Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Four men described as Mexican drug cartel enforcers accused of orchestrating murders and facilitating narcotics trafficking are facing federal charges according to a superseding indictment and arrest warrants unsealed Monday in San Diego federal court.

The defendants allegedly ran a group known as Los Cabos, described by prosecutors as “a violent group of cartel enforcers” operating out of Baja California for Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, or CJNG. Los Cabos allegedly employs violent tactics in order to allow CJNG to traffic drugs through Tijuana and into the U.S. through San Diego.

The defendants, who are charged with federal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances counts, are Edgar Herrera Pardo, also known as “Caiman,” Carlos Lorenzo Hinojosa Guerrero, aka “Cabo 96” or “C96,” Edgar Perez Villa, aka “Cabo 89” or “Nier,” and Israel Alejandro Vazquez-Vazquez, aka “Cabo 50,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In a statement, prosecutors said a group chat operated by Los Cabos’ leaders was surveilled over the course of six months, during which its members planned more than 150 murders, the majority of which happened in Tijuana. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Los Cabos is responsible for the 2018 murders of two Chula Vista teens in Tijuana, as well as the slayings of at least three police officers.

CJNG, described by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as “one of the most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world,” allegedly deals in moving cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl-laced heroin into the U.S. in large quantities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office called it “the most well-armed cartel in Mexico,” whose members “willingly confront rival cartels and even the security forces of the Mexican government.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman said, “For too long, powerful cartels have visited unspeakable violence on Tijuana, a city that is right next door to San Diego. We will continue our campaign to end the cartels’ reign of terror and stop the flow of drugs across  the border by prosecuting the highest- ranking leaders and enforcers.”