NEW YORK – A complaint
was unsealed on July 6th in the Eastern District of New York charging
Bryant Espinoza Aguilar, the stepson of Sinaloa Cartel leader and
notorious fugitive Rafael Caro Quintero, with conspiring to commit
violations of the Kingpin Act, an economic sanctions program against
narcotics traffickers that is administered and enforced by the Office of
Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury. |
Aguilar is charged with assisting Caro Quintero and his common law wife
by putting their assets in his own name, thereby violating OFAC’s
prohibition on U.S. Citizens from conducting financial transactions with
specially designated narcotics traffickers.
The complaint was
announced by DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea, U.S. Attorney for
the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue, Homeland Security
Investigations New York Field Office Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C.
Fitzhugh, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, and New York
State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett announced the charge.
According to court
filings, OFAC designated Caro Quintero as a specially designated
narcotics trafficker in 2000, and designated Caro Quintero’s wife as a
specially designated narcotics trafficker in 2016. The OFAC designations
stem from Caro Quintero’s criminal history as the leader of the Caro
Quintero drug trafficking organization, a faction of the Mexican
organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.
Between January 1980
and January 2017, Caro Quintero led a continuing criminal enterprise
responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive
amounts of illegal narcotics and conspiring to murder persons who posed a
threat to his narcotics enterprise. The murder conspiracy includes Caro
Quintero’s kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki”
Camarena in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in February 1985.
On August 9, 2013, a
Mexican tribunal ruled that Caro Quintero could be released from custody
because he had been tried improperly in a federal tribunal, rather than a
state tribunal. The Mexican tribunal’s finding was later overturned, but
Caro Quintero remains at large as a fugitive from Mexican and U.S.
The complaint charges
Espinoza Aguilar transferred property owned by his mother into his own
name and bribed a public official to change the name of the property’s
owner on public registry documents to protect the property from being
restrained as a result his mother’s OFAC designation.
“On February 7, 1985,
DEA was forever changed when Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was
kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in Guadalajara, Mexico,” said DEA
Acting Administrator Shea. “We will never forget his sacrifice and remain
steadfast in our pursuit of the man responsible for his death, Rafael
Caro Quintero, and those that continue to protect and enable his criminal
activities. Let today’s action be a clear message to Caro Quintero, his
family, and his criminal associates — we will stop at nothing in our
pursuit for justice for SA Camarena.”
“As alleged, the
defendant acted as a straw man to protect property purchased with the
illicit, blood-stained proceeds of his stepfather’s drug trafficking
empire from being seized by the government,” said U.S. Attorney Donoghue.
“This Office and our partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration are
using every legal measure at our disposal to hold accountable those
enablers of Caro Quintero and bring them to justice.” Mr. Donoghue
expressed his grateful appreciation to the DEA’s Raleigh Division Office
for its assistance on the case.
“While his stepfather,
a Sinaloa Cartel leader, was specially designated by OFAC as a narcotics
trafficker twenty years ago, Espinoza Aguilar is alleged to have violated
the Kingpin Act by transferring his stepfather’s assets into his name,
seeking to evade the sanctions program,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge
Fitzhugh. “HSI’s partnership with the DEA and its Strike Force is one in
which collaboration is key, and will continue to focus on arresting those
who pursue ways to circumvent the law and hide their criminal acts.”
“I commend the
dedicated teamwork of the New York Strike Force which was instrumental in
working to bring this suspect to justice. This defendant attempted to
protect and hide the profits of dangerous narcotics that were our
communities, profits made at the expense of the safety of our
communities. We will continue to be vigilant in working together with our
law enforcement partners to keep our neighborhoods safe, to keep harmful
narcotics off our streets and those who commit these types of crimes, or
protect those who do, are held accountable,” said NYSP Superintendent
“This case is another
example of our joint responsibilities to eradicate international drug
trafficking. Our NYPD detectives, and state and local partners, stop at
nothing to stem the flow of illegal narcotics,” said NYPD Commissioner
The investigation was
led by the New York Strike Force, a crime-fighting unit comprising
federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies supported by the
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The Strike Force is based at the
DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, New
York City Police Department, New York State Police, Homeland Security
Investigations, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation
Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals
Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S.
Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
The charges in the
complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless
and until proven guilty.
The government’s case
is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s International Narcotics
and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael
Robotti and Erin Reid are in charge of the prosecution.
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