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Alleged Mexican cartel leader, arrested crossing into U.S., indicted in Missouri

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(The Center Square) – An alleged Mexican drug cartel leader who was arrested when he crossed the U.S. border was indicted in St. Louis along with 28 others on drug and money-laundering charges.

Genaro Rosas-Vargas, 39, was indicted along with the others by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in late May, according to information from the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri. Rosas-Vargas, also known by other names including “Chiliango,” Javier Ramos-Garcia, 50, Jose Coronel-Coss, 28, and Theodore Sigite, 47, were named in the indictment as large-scale drug traffickers involved in the conspiracy.

A motion was filed to keep Rosas-Vargas in jail until trial. The motion also accuses him of organizing the transport of undocumented immigrants from Mexico to the United States. When the undocumented immigrants arrived, they were allegedly required to work off between $5,000 and $11,000 they owed Rosas-Vargas by participating in drug trafficking operations. Court documents state Rosas-Vargas also discussed sending firearms from the U.S. to Mexico for use by the cartels.

The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, five kilograms or more of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.

While Rosas-Vargas was arrested at the border, the other 28 defendants were arrested in the St. Louis area, Illinois and other states. Most of the arrests were made this week, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

“This long-term investigation represents a significant blow to the drug trafficking cartels trying to profit by poisoning the St. Louis community,” U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming, leader of the Eastern District in Missouri, said in a statement. “It also resulted in the interception of large quantities of fentanyl, cocaine and meth and the coordinated, masterful arrest of a large number of defendants in multiple states in just a few hours.”

The indictment states Rosas-Vargas was a Mexico-based broker who obtained the illegal drugs from cartels as far back as 2017 and delivered the contraband to the St. Louis area and elsewhere. In addition to using electronic money transfers to send drug proceeds to Mexico, Rosas-Vargas and the con-conspirators also used couriers to transport bulk shipments of cash, according to the indictment.

The indictment requests forfeiture of a 2017 Jaguar F-Pace, a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado, a 2003 Suzuki GSX motorcycle and more than $131,000 in cash. The investigation resulted in the seizure of six kilograms of fentanyl, 44 kilograms of cocaine, 75 kilograms of meth and $250,000 in drug proceeds.

“Mexico-based drug cartels should never be underestimated for their power and global reach,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey, head of Drug Enforcement Administration operations in Eastern Missouri, said in a statement. “The lethality of the illegal drugs these traffickers ship into St. Louis communities demonstrates that their greed trumps any concern for the health and safety of our citizens. DEA and our partners are determined to disrupt the cartels’ supply chain and end their horrible business.”

Investigators in the case were from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the St. Charles County Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Bridgeton Police Department in Missouri and the Marion Police Department in Illinois.

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