5 Malas Mañas cartel members indicted in Tucson for drug, human smuggling

5 Mexican males alleged to be members of the Malas Mañas group have been indicted on federal fees associated to drug and human smuggling. They face prosecution in Tucson, officers mentioned.

The Sonora, Mexico-based group, described by federal officers as a trans-national human smuggling and narcotics trafficking group, was additionally sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Division.

The indictments, handed up on November 29, had been introduced Thursday morning by the U.S. Justice Division.

Jorge Damian Roman-Figueroa, Luis Eduardo Roman-Flores, Manuel Jose Bernal, Joel Salazar-Ballesteros and Jesus Armando Gonzalez-Villela — all Mexican residents — face a battery of fees, together with conspiracy to move aliens, conspiracy to launder financial devices, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine, distribution of these medicine, and brandishing a firearm.

There are 11 federal counts included within the legal indictment.

“These actions are the most recent in a protracted line of the Justice Division’s efforts to dismantle, piece-by-piece, violent cartels like Malasa Manas (sic) and Sinaloa,” mentioned Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland in a information launch. “We are going to proceed to focus on and prosecute the leaders and associates of the legal teams chargeable for poisoning the American individuals with fentanyl and endangering weak migrants for revenue.”

From federal officers:

The indictment alleges that defendants Jorge Damian Roman-Figueroa, often known as Soldado, Luis Eduardo Roman-Flores, Manuel Jose Bernal, often known as Peque, and Joel Salazar-Ballesteros, often known as Catorce, are members of the Malas Manas Transnational Prison Group (TCO), working within the Santa Cruz and Mascarenas areas of Mexico, with the permission of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The indictment alleges that these defendants operated a human smuggling group as a part of the Malas Manas TCO, trafficked medicine, and laundered the proceeds of each legal actions. Extra particularly, the indictment alleges that starting at an unknown time however together with December 2020 and persevering with via November 12, 2021, defendants Roman-Figueroa, Roman-Flores, Bernal, and Salazar-Ballesteros conspired to move aliens inside the US as a part of the Malas Manas Transnational Prison Group.

The indictment alleges that between January 2019 and August 2023, defendants Roman-Figueroa, Roman-Flores, and Salazar-Ballesteros conspired to launder the earnings of alien smuggling and drug smuggling via the motion of financial devices from the US to the Republic of Mexico.

The indictment additional alleges that from 2019 till 2023 Roman-Figueroa, Bernal, Salazar-Ballesteros, and Gonzalez-Villela conspired to distribute and did distribute numerous portions of fentanyl, marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Lastly, the indictment alleges that Bernal brandished a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime involving methamphetamine on February 3, 2021. Essentially the most critical of those crimes carries a minimal necessary time period of 10 years and as much as a most time period of life in jail, and a advantageous of as much as $10,000,000.

“DEA’s prime operational precedence is to defeat the 2 legal organizations chargeable for the inflow of fentanyl into the US— the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels.  As alleged within the indictment, these defendants labored with the Sinaloa Cartel to ship fentanyl and different lethal medicine into the US,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram mentioned in a information launch. “At this time’s actions display that DEA will relentlessly pursue each member and affiliate of those international legal organizations, which threaten the general public well being, security, and nationwide safety of the American individuals.”

“The info alleged right here illustrate the breadth and variety of the dangerous actions by transnational legal organizations,” mentioned U.S. Legal professional Gary Restaino. “This case is not about simply weapons, or medicine, or aliens. In our persevering with efforts to safeguard and bolster border communities, we look ahead to establishing the interconnectedness of those three associated crimes.”

Homeland Safety Investigations in Nogales, the DEA in Tucson, and the FBI’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Process Drive in Tucson carried out the investigation on this case, officers mentioned. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rui Wang, Arturo Aguilar, and David Petermann labored on the investigation. AUSA David Petermann is dealing with the prosecution.

The Treasury Division mentioned that Malas Mañas established by Jorge Damian Roman Figueroa (Roman Figueroa) (a.ok.a. “El Soldado”) as early as 2016.”

Malas Mañas
is a human smuggling (transnational legal group) with a major base of operations in Sonora,
Mexico. The group smuggles undocumented non-citizens — usually
together with people from Guatemala and El Salvador — via Sonora,
throughout the U.S. Southwest Border, and into Arizona, together with Phoenix
and Tucson. With operations on each side of the border and a whole bunch of
members, Malas Mañas can also be concerned in narcotics trafficking and
weapons trafficking. Particularly, Malas Mañas has distributed illicit
fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine in the US. Members of
the group have been identified to put on merchandise, corresponding to hats and
shirts, that includes the Malas Mañas slogan, “SQLD,”—quick for solo que lo dudes (solely that you simply doubt it)—and emblem, a sun-shaped emblem with a soldier within the middle. The group contains sicarios (hitmen) working for Malas Mañas management,” Treasury officers mentioned.

Sanctions imposed

From Treasury:

Malas Mañas’ founder, Roman Figueroa, works intently with Sinaloa
Cartel chief Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela (a.ok.a. “Gigio”). On
September 22, 2021, OFAC designated each Roman Figueroa and Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela,
amongst different Sinaloa Cartel members, pursuant to the International Narcotics
Kingpin Designation Act. The next month, Mexican authorities
arrested Roman Figueroa in Nogales, Sonora.

At this time, OFAC designated
Malas Mañas pursuant to Govt Order 13581, as amended by E.O. 13863
(hereafter, “E.O. 13581, as amended”), for being a international person who
constitutes a big TCO.

Along with Malas Mañas, OFAC additionally sanctioned two Mexico-based human smugglers, Luis Eduardo Roman Flores (Roman Flores) and Joel Alexandro Salazar Ballesteros (Salazar Ballesteros),
pursuant to E.O. 13581, as amended, for being owned or managed by,
or for having acted or presupposed to act for or on behalf of, straight or
not directly, Malas Mañas. 

Particularly, Roman Flores works for
his imprisoned brother, Roman Figueroa, to facilitate the crossing of
undocumented non-citizens into the US on behalf of Malas
Mañas. Roman Flores oversees the gathering of non-citizens, units
smuggling costs, and receives funds on behalf of the group.
Roman Flores makes use of social media web sites to coordinate smuggling
preparations with non-citizens. 

Along with distributing
illicit fentanyl and trying to distribute cocaine and
methamphetamine in the US, Salazar Ballesteros participates
in human smuggling operations on behalf of Malas Mañas. Moreover,
Salazar Ballesteros manages Malas Mañas’ funds and communicates with
human smuggling stash home caretakers.


Because of at present’s motion, all property and pursuits in property
of the designated individuals described above which can be in the US
or within the possession or management of U.S. individuals are blocked and have to be
reported to OFAC. As well as, any entities which can be owned, straight or
not directly, individually or within the combination, 50 p.c or extra by one
or extra blocked individuals are additionally blocked. Until licensed by a
basic or particular license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s
laws usually prohibit all transactions by U.S. individuals or
inside (or transiting) the US that contain any property or
pursuits in property of designated or in any other case blocked individuals. U.S.
individuals could face civil or legal penalties for violations of E.O.
13581, as amended, and the International Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

“On my latest go to to Mexico Metropolis, I shared Treasury’s dedication to
working along with the federal government of Mexico to focus on the illicit
funds of legal organizations that undermine the safety and
prosperity of each of our international locations,” mentioned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “As a part of the Biden-Harris administration’s effort to
goal the human smugglers and drug traffickers working on the U.S.
southwestern border, we’re imposing sanctions at present to focus on Mala
Mañas or likeminded organizations that make the most of migrants and
abuse the U.S. monetary system.”

“The Division of Homeland Safety continues to relentlessly pursue
transnational legal organizations. By way of whole-of-government
efforts focusing on cartels and smugglers just like the Malas Mañas, we’re
disrupting the illicit monetary networks of criminals who revenue off of
weak migrants and devastate our communities with fentanyl and
different harmful narcotics,” mentioned Homeland Safety Secretary
Alejandro Mayorkas. “At this time’s announcement showcases the work of
Homeland Safety Investigations, alongside our companions on the Drug
Enforcement Administration and Treasury Division, in safeguarding our
nation and holding those that profit from crime accountable.”