Leader of International Drug-Trafficking Organization Sentenced for Cocaine Distribution

A leader of an international drug-trafficking organization (DTO) was sentenced today to life in prison for conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine for importation into the United States.

According to court documents, between 2003 and April 2016, Gerardo Gonzalez-Valencia, aka Lalo, 45, was a leader of Los Cuinis, a DTO responsible for importing large quantities of cocaine from South America, Mexico, and elsewhere into the United States. Los Cuinis is closely aligned with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), which is based in the State of Jalisco in Mexico. Together, Los Cuinis and CJNG form one of the largest, most dangerous, and most prolific drug cartels in Mexico. They are responsible for trafficking significant quantities of illegal drugs into the United States and employing extreme violence to further that objective.

“Gonzalez-Valencia’s prosecution marks another step in the Justice Department’s pursuit of the top leadership of drug-trafficking organizations like Los Cuinis and the CJNG,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The significant sentence imposed today also reflects the magnitude of harm these drug-trafficking organizations wreak on our communities. The Criminal Division will continue to hold accountable those like Gonzalez-Valencia, who profit from importing large quantities of dangerous substances into the United States and who support the extraordinary violence committed in furtherance of that objective.”

Gonzalez-Valencia personally invested in and coordinated multi-ton shipments of cocaine for importation into the United States. Some of these shipments were interdicted by law enforcement, including the seizure of approximately 280 kilograms of cocaine from a semi-submersible interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the seizure of 750 kilograms of  cocaine concealed in frozen shark carcasses destined for the United States and seized by Mexican law enforcement. Gonzalez-Valencia also directed the murders of rival drug traffickers and used and supplied weapons in furtherance of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message to the leaders of drug cartels that DEA will stop at nothing to dismantle the criminal networks that threaten the safety and health of the American people,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Under Gonzalez-Valencia’s leadership, Los Cuinis – a cartel closely aligned with the Jalisco (CJNG) Cartel – shipped massive quantities of cocaine into the United States and killed rivals that threatened the cartels’ trafficking organizations. The men and women of DEA are working relentlessly to hold all drug traffickers accountable that seek to profit from the Jalisco Cartel’s violent and deadly drug trafficking network.”

This case is supported by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

The DEA Los Angeles Field Division investigated the case with the assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, Investigative Operations Division.

Acting Assistant Deputy Chief Kaitlin Sahni and Trial Attorneys Kate Naseef and Kirk Handrich of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section prosecuted the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance.

The Justice Department thanks Uruguayan authorities for their assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Gonzalez-Valencia.