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02/16/2012

ICE shares bulk of $29.5 million in forfeited drug money with 12 south Texas law enforcement partners

Local law enforcement credited for critical assistance in bringing to justice former Gulf Cartel leader

ICE shares bulk of $29.5 million in forfeited drug money with 12 south Texas law enforcement partners
ICE shares bulk of $29.5 million in forfeited drug money with 12 south Texas law enforcement partners
ICE shares bulk of $29.5 million in forfeited drug money with 12 south Texas law enforcement partners

MCALLEN, Texas — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and other federal partners on Thursday distributed the bulk of $29.5 million in "asset sharing" funds to 12 south Texas law enforcement agencies.

These distributed funds had been ordered forfeited from a Feb. 25, 2010 court order issued against the former head of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas-Guillen. The funds constitute proceeds from his illegal enterprise.

HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins, joined by DEA and FBI representatives presented poster-size checks to the following south Texas law enforcement agencies:

  • Brownsville Police Department $2,953,122.00
  • Cameron County District Attorney $1,181,388.20
  • Cameron County Sheriff's Office $5,906,966.00
  • Hidalgo County HIDTA $1,181,388.20
  • Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office $1,181,388.20
  • McAllen Police Department $2,953,122.00
  • Mission Police Department $1,181,387.60
  • Palmview Police Department $1,181,387.60
  • Pharr Police Department $1,181,387.60
  • San Juan Police Department $1,181,387.60
  • Texas Department of Public Safety $1,145,387.00
  • Texas National Guard's Counter-Drug Support $1,145,387.00

The funds are divided among the participating agencies as part of HSI's asset-sharing agreement. The rest of the forfeited drug monies are retained for U.S. federal agencies that participated in the investigation, for numerous investigative initiatives. In poetic-justice fashion, the forfeited funds are distributed to local law enforcement agencies to financially support the expensive work of fighting crime and keeping the streets of south Texas safe.

"HSI is proud to join our federal partners in recognizing the key role that our local law enforcement partners played in bringing to justice the notorious former head of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, and the judgment forfeiting millions of dollars from the empire he had built," said HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins. "With equitable asset-sharing like this, federal and local law enforcement can really turn the tables on the bad guys. We simply take their illegal profits and invest them in local law enforcement efforts."

This case made national news in February 2010 when U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas, announced Cardenas-Guillen had been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison with no parole, and ordered to forfeit $50 million to the United States.

The funds shared Feb. 16 with south Texas law enforcements partners constitutes a portion of the assets that were obtained when the money was seized. HSI distributed them in accordance with the U.S. Treasury Department's equitable-sharing program, which applies to assets seized by the federal government as proceeds of criminal activity.

Osiel Cardenas-Guillen background

Cardenas-Guillen was indicted in 2000. In January 2007, he was one of 15 major drug defendants extradited to the United States from Mexico for prosecution.

While head of the Gulf Cartel, Cardenas-Guillen oversaw a vast drug trafficking empire responsible for bringing thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana into the United States from Mexico. The smuggled drugs were further distributed to other areas of the country, including Houston and Atlanta.

From July 2000 through September 2001, more than 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of cocaine directly attributable to Cardenas-Guillen were seized by U.S. law enforcement. The cartel's activities generated millions of dollars in drug proceeds, which ultimately flowed back to Mexico.

Cardenas-Guillen used violence and intimidation to further the goals of his criminal enterprise. In May 1999, he threatened to kill a Cameron County deputy sheriff who was working in an undercover capacity with HSI after the undercover officer refused to deliver a load of about 988 kilograms (2,174 pounds) of marijuana. Later, in November 1999, while traveling in an official vehicle through Matamoros, Mexico, two DEA and FBI agents were surrounded by Cardenas-Guillen and his gang and threatened at gunpoint. Although eventually allowed to leave, Cardenas-Guillen warned the agents not to return. Cardenas was charged with, convicted of, and sentenced to the maximum statutory penalty for threatening to assault both federal agents and the Cameron County deputy sheriff.