Skip to main content

An official website of the United States government

September 15, 2022Brownsville, TX, United StatesNarcotics

HSI, federal partner investigation results in life sentence of former head of Gulf Cartel for importing drugs

A portion of the marijuana and money seized from the former Cartel del Golfo boss during HSI’s criminal investigation.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The former head of the Cartel del Golfo (CDG) from 2003 to 2012 was sentenced to life in federal prison for his role in conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana from Mexico into the United States. The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in collaboration with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and FBI with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

Jorge Costilla-Sanchez, 51, from Mexico, was sentenced Sept. 15 by a federal judge to serve the rest of his life in prison. At the hearing, the court heard additional information detailing how Costilla-Sanchez profited $5 million from drug trafficking. He was ordered to pay a money judgment in that amount. In handing down the sentence, the judge noted Costilla-Sanchez’s extensive involvement in trafficking illegal drugs into the country. The court commented that during the 10 years Costilla-Sanchez was the head of the CDG, he led a violent criminal organization, using guns and intimidation to maintain control of their illegal drug trafficking enterprise, resorting to violence, and killing to maintain power.

“Today’s sentencing is the culmination of years of relentless work by HSI and its partners targeting the Cartel del Gulfo,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “This investigation highlights HSI’s dedication to go after cartel members importing dangerous drugs into our communities. This sentence will send a resounding message that transnational criminal organizations are being continuously investigated and their leaders will be brought to justice.”

“High-ranking drug trafficking leaders like Costilla-Sanchez are not immune from facing stiff punishments,” said Daniel C. Comeaux, special agent in charge of the DEA Houston Division. “Costilla-Sanchez brought poison to our communities, and our collaborative efforts with our local and federal partners brought him to prison. We will continue to aggressively go after any drug trafficking organization wanting to profit from our communities.”

“This sentencing sends a clear message that organized drug trafficking organizations and threats against law enforcement will not be tolerated,” said Oliver E. Rich Jr., FBI special agent in charge “The FBI continues to work alongside our partners to pursue and prosecute the leadership of drug trafficking cartels and dismantle their organizations. We thank the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for their collective efforts to bring this high-level criminal to justice.”

According to court documents, Costilla-Sanchez aka El Cos, Doble X and Dos Equis became head of CDG after the arrest of former CDG leader Osiel Cardenas in 2003. Prior to joining the cartel, Costilla-Sanchez was a municipal police officer in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He was arrested in 2012 in Mexico at the request of the United States and again in 2015. Costilla-Sanchez also previously pleaded guilty to threatening two federal agents from the FBI and while he was being investigated for drug trafficking in 1999.

CDG is a Mexican transnational criminal organization operating in Tamaulipas, Mexico. During the time Costilla-Sanchez was the leader, he was responsible for importing over 10,000 kilograms of cocaine and 140,000 kilograms of marijuana into the United States.

Costilla-Sanchez remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined soon.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jody Young and Karen Betancourt, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Mexico to secure the arrest and extradition of Costilla-Sanchez to the United States.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 09/15/2022