In a landmark ruling, the Mexican court upholds the US foreclosure order authorizing the seizure of properties belonging to the leading drug cartel

BROOKLYN, NY— For the first time, a Mexican court has invoked its new civil foreclosure law to authorize the foreclosure of properties in and around Guadalajara, Mexico, pursuant to a request for legal assistance from the United States. The foreclosure marks the United States’ pioneering use of Mexico’s new statute to purge drug cartel leader Rafael Caro Quintero of ill-gotten gains. Caro Quintero faces charges in the Eastern District of New York for running a continuing criminal enterprise and related crimes. He is currently in custody in Mexico and extradition proceedings are pending.

The derelict properties detailed in the civil foreclosure order issued by U.S. District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano on April 15, 2021 were purchased by Rafael Caro Quintero with drug proceeds generated by drug trafficking organization Caro Quintero, a Mexican organized crime affiliate became syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Anne Milgram, Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced the Mexican court’s seizure and foreclosure order.

“This decay sends a strong message to drug lords in Mexico and elsewhere that there are no borders to go after bad actors and locate their ill-gotten assets wherever they are in the world,” the United States Attorney said from Peace. “This office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to derive economic benefit from crime using any resources available, including asset confiscation.”

“For over thirty years, the men and women of the DEA have worked tirelessly to bring Rafael Caro Quintero to justice for his violent and reckless acts,” Administrator Milgram said. “Today’s order – authorizing the forfeiture of Caro Quintero’s properties in Mexico – shows that DEA agents will follow evidence wherever it leads to hold drug traffickers fully accountable for their deadly crimes.”

According to the forfeiture complaint, between January 1980 and March 2015, drug trafficking organization Caro Quintero was involved in the transportation of several tons of marijuana, several kilograms of methamphetamine, and several kilograms of cocaine from Mexico to the United States. As part of their investigation, law enforcement learned that Caro Quintero used proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics to purchase real estate in and around his native Guadalajara territory. Caro Quintero allegedly placed the properties on behalf of family members to hide his ownership of the properties and use of illegal proceeds to purchase them and to prevent Mexican authorities from confiscating them.

Mr. Peace thanked the DEA New York Division Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Strike Force, DEA Raleigh Resident Office, DEA Los Angeles Office, and DEA Mexico City Country Office for their support in this case.

The government’s case is being handled by the Bureau’s Asset Recovery Division and International Narcotics and Money Laundering Division. Assistant US Attorney Brendan G. King is responsible for the forfeiture action.

The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided crucial assistance in this case. The ministry also appreciates the significant cooperation and support provided by the Mexican authorities.

EDNY File No. 19-CV-5748 (ENV)