Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A high-ranking drug cartel leader was arrested in San Diego on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.
The Justice Department on Friday announced the arrest on Oct. 11 of Sajid Emilio Quintero Navidad, 36, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler arraigned Quintero Navidad and unsealed the indictment against him.
Quintero Navidad, who goes by the name "El Cadete," is the cousin of fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who allegedly was responsible for killing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena.
A San Diego federal grand jury indicted Quintero Navidad on Sept. 22 on charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine for importation, conspiracy to import the drugs and conspiracy to launder money.
In a release, the Justice Department said Quintero Navidad is believed to be one of the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leaders arrested in the United States.
In August 2014, the Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Navidad as a "Special Designated Narcotics Trafficker," pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. OFAC said Navidad coordinated the transportation of tons of quantities of cocaine from South America through Mexico and onto the United States.
Quintero Navidad was identified as the plaza boss for the Beltran Leyva Organization in the state of Sonora. According to the Treasury Department, he coordinated the shipment of several tons of cocaine from Guatemala and Bolivia through Mexico and controlled important routes into the United States.
In 2012, he was identified on banners in Hermosillo, Agua Prieta and Nogales as being responsible for several killing, kidnappings and fuel robberies.
In the indictment last month, the joint Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration targeted "the leadership elements, lieutenants, associates and money launderers connected with the Rafael Caro-Quintero and Beltran Leyva Organization."
"Today is yet another reminder that there is no place to hide, because the Southern District of California, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue and prosecute international drug kingpins who for years profited from the shipment and sale of illegal drugs," said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. "With this action, one of the most significant drug traffickers in Mexico will be brought to justice."
Quintero Navidad faces up to life imprisonment for the conspiracy charges.
Dave Shaw, special agent in charge of HSI in San Diego, said Navidad's arrest is a "result of outstanding investigative work by HSI special agents in Calexico, in collaboration with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners."