SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Victor Manuel Felix-Felix, the alleged leader of a Mexican money laundering and cocaine trafficking organization, was extradited to the United States by Mexico Monday and made his first appearance in federal court this afternoon.
Felix-Felix was a close associate of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera and Felix Felix’s daughter is reportedly married to Guzman Loera’s son.
According to extradition documents, in 2009, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents began investigating a money laundering organization based in Southern California. One agent, acting in an undercover capacity, flew to Panama City, Panama and posed as the leader of a transportation cell capable of moving narcotics and bulk currency using private aircraft.
After several additional undercover meetings, the agent gained the trust of the organization and agreed to begin picking up bulk currency for transfer to Mexico. Over the course of 2010 and 2011, the agent arranged for the transfer of millions of dollars in currency, coordinating with local law enforcement to arrange pick-ups in Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Houston, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Vancouver, Canada, and Montreal, Canada.
After the successful currency pick-ups, the undercover agent began traveling to Central America to meet with higher-level members of Felix-Felix’s organization. In September 2010, at a meeting in the Dominican Republic, the undercover agent offered that he could transport cocaine from Ecuador to Mexico City, extradition documents said. Felix-Felix agreed and provided the agent with an encrypted phone and a cash down-payment of $3.5 million for his services. A team of DEA agents then traveled to Ecuador and worked with local law enforcement to set up a roadside checkpoint and seize a truck containing 2,500 kilograms of cocaine intended for Felix-Felix.
After the seizure in Ecuador, the undercover agent offered Felix-Felix that he could transport another load of cocaine from Ecuador to Mexico City. After receiving another upfront payment of $1 million in cash, DEA agents coordinated with Ecuadorian and Mexican law enforcement to arrange for an international “controlled delivery” of cocaine using a private jet. Agents picked up cocaine in Ecuador, transported it to Mexico City, and then seized it after it was delivered to members of Felix-Felix’s organization, the extradition documents said. Felix-Felix and 18 others were then arrested.
On May 13, 2011, a federal grand jury in San Diego returned an indictment, charging Felix-Felix with Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering. Felix-Felix was flown by the United States Marshals Service from Mexico City to San Diego on December 18, 2017. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, Dec. 19th, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Schopler.
United States Attorney Adam Braverman stated, "Today is a reminder that international drug kingpins who profit by shipping narcotics into our community are not safe from prosecution. We will work with our international partners to bring them to justice wherever they reside.”
U.S. Attorney Braverman also praised the outstanding work of the DEA, National City Police Department, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Office, Mexican Federal Police, Colombian National Police, Panamanian National Police, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Enforcement Operations and the Office of International Affairs, and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for their ongoing assistance in this investigation.
“DEA will continue to hunt down these violent drug traffickers,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “Let this be a warning to those who think they can step into the shoes of those who have been arrested-we will come for you too.”
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Felix-Felix under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The Kingpin Act prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Felix-Felix’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 16th, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.