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November 27, 2023San Diego, CA, United StatesNarcotics

US-Mexican citizen extradited to the US from Spain to face charges related to fentanyl seizure following HSI San Diego, multiagency investigation

SAN DIEGO — An alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization based in San Diego and Tijuana made his first appearance in federal court Nov. 21 following his extradition from Spain to face fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking charges. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and multiple law enforcement agencies investigated the case.

“Fentanyl continues to be the most significant drug-related concern for Homeland Security Investigations and our partners due to its widespread availability, highly addictive features and deadly effects,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “The success of this investigation is the result of law enforcement agencies working together to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and holding those accountable for their actions — no matter where they hide.”

According to publicly filed court documents, Aaron Leib Kobisher aka El Kobi, 34, of Mexico, is facing charges related to multiple seizures, including a June 2021 interception of approximately 2 kilograms of powdered fentanyl that was linked to him and his drug trafficking organization. After the DEA’s Southwest Laboratory tested the fentanyl, investigators discovered that it was the most concentrated powdered fentanyl that had ever been tested there.

At the hearing, the U.S. government moved for detention, arguing that Kobisher was a substantial flight risk. U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven B. Chu scheduled a detention hearing for 10 a.m. on Nov. 24.

Kobisher is the lead defendant charged in a six-defendant indictment stemming from a long-term investigation. Four others charged in the same indictment were arrested earlier this year. One defendant remains a fugitive.

In court documents, Kobisher was described as an organizer and leader of the drug trafficking organization who coordinated the smuggling of fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico to San Diego for distribution in the United States. Prosecutors alleged that Kobisher fled to Mexico in November 2022, after several seizures linked to him and his drug trafficking organization.

Kobisher was arrested in Spain on June 21. He boarded a flight in Madrid that was headed to Mexico City, Mexico. After the flight left the gate, Spanish police stopped the aircraft and arrested Kobisher based on an Interpol Diffusion Notice from the U.S. government. On Nov. 20, Kobisher was extradited to the United States.

“Fentanyl is deadly in all forms, but one of the seizures in this case packed an extraordinary punch,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Getting fentanyl out of the hands of drug traffickers — especially the most potent versions — no doubt saves many lives. The diligence of law enforcement means our neighborhoods are safer.”

“Drug trafficking is a violent crime, that impacts the safety and security of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly Howe. “The DEA and its partners will continue to work together to disrupt drug trafficking organizations and bring drug traffickers to justice. These organizations must be held accountable for the harm they cause in our communities.”

This case is being prosecuted out of the Southern District of California.

The DEA’s attaché in Madrid, Spain; the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Office of Enforcement Operations, and Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force; and U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided additional assistance. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial help in securing Kobisher’s arrest and extradition.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

HSI is 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 more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.