SAN DIEGO, CA (The San Diego Tribune) – A high-ranking drug cartel leader whose name flew on banners taking credit for a number of murders in Sonora, Mexico, has been arrested in San Diego on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, who goes by the moniker “El Cadete,” is the cousin of fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, accused of being responsible for the murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.
He was arrested Oct. 11 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Authorities have not released any additional details about his capture.
Quintero Navidad was indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury on Sept. 22, charging him with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine for importation, conspiracy to import the drugs and conspiracy to launder money. A sealed warrant for his arrest was issued the same day.
But he has been on the radar as a major trafficker for some time.
In August 2014 the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control labeled him a “special designated narcotics trafficker” — a designation under the so-called Kingpin Act that prohibits U.S. citizens and businesses from financial transactions with him and also freezes any of his finances in the U.S.
Quintero Navidad was identified as the plaza boss for the Beltran Leyva Organization in the state of Sonora, coordinating the shipment of ton quantities of cocaine from Guatemala and Bolivia through Mexico and controlling important routes into the U.S., according to the Treasury. During a spate of murders in 2012, he was identified on banners in Hermosillo, Agua Prieta and Nogales as being responsible for the bloodshed.
Quintero was formerly a member of the Sinaloa cartel and a close associate of one of its leaders, fugitive Ismael Zambada Garcia. But after a Sinaloa lieutenant’s death, territorial disputes placed his alignment elsewhere.
Quintero has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody.