41 charged in international drug smuggling operation linked to Mexican cartel

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Federal prosecutors have charged dozens of men, including 16 people on the run, in an international drug smuggling operation orchestrated by Mexico’s brutal Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).  

“From the barrios of Jalisco and Michoacán, Mexico the Jalisco New Generation Cartel casts a dark shadow that extends far beyond the borders of a single nation and into the streets and communities of places like Houston and beyond,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani said Monday in announcing the charges. 

US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Alamdar S. Hamdani

US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Alamdar S. Hamdani (C) speaks during a news conference in Houston, Texas, on April 1, 2024.  (MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images)

Hamdani described CJNG as “one of the most powerful and dangerous criminals in Mexico, characterized by a business model of extreme violence and trafficking in the most deadly of substances.” 

Monday’s 50-count indictment charges 41 people with cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and meth trafficking and related crimes in the Houston and Galveston areas. 


The indictment charges that all 41 defendants operated under the control of the CJNG. In the past week, law enforcement has taken 20 of the defendants into custody. Three were already in custody, two have since passed away, and the remaining 16 are at large. 

Hamdani said the fugitives are in Mexico, Houston, and as far away as Laos. All defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and face up to life in prison. 

The indictment, returned in December, seeks forfeiture of any illegal proceeds of the alleged crimes, estimated at $10 million. 


The investigation, dubbed “Operation Rainmaker,” and subsequent arrests is the result of a five-year investigation, prosecutors said. 

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