JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. citizen living in Mexico who claimed ties to the Sinaloa cartel faces a 17-count indictment related to a drug trafficking operation between Mexico and Alaska, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for Alaska said Miguel Baez Guevara, 38, was arrested by Mexican immigration authorities in Sonora, Mexico, on Friday. He was deported to the United States and arrested upon his arrival in Arizona, the office said in a statement.
Guevara pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court in Arizona, where he was being detained pending transfer to Alaska, the office said. An online court records system did not show an attorney for Guevara.
William Taylor, an assistant U.S. attorney involved in the case, was asked during a news conference if authorities had confirmed a link between Guevara and the cartel, known for its extensive drug distribution network. Taylor said he could not go into details outside the indictment, which said that Guevara “claimed membership in, and association with, the Sinaloa Cartel operating in Sonora, Mexico.”
The cartel is also known for its association with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who had been widely considered its leader. He was sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. in 2019, and there has been little sign since that the cartel has weakened.
The indictment against Guevara alleges Guevara controlled and participated in “a network of drug traffickers designed to transport heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine from Mexico to Alaska and other locations in the United States for distribution.”
Alaska was targeted “because of the increased prices the Enterprise would receive due to its distance away from Mexican sources of supply,” the indictment alleges.
The indictment, signed in 2020, alleges actions dating to 2016. Taylor said the indictment was recently unsealed. The pandemic interfered with efforts to work with international agencies on an arrest, he said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for Alaska said Guevara's indictment and arrest are part of an ongoing investigation in which 23 people have pleaded guilty to charges.