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US: How Alaska residents help the Sinaloa Cartel smuggle drugs north - KTVA 11 - The Voice of Alaska

Found: Thu Jul 11 18:43:22 2019 PDT
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How Alaska residents help the Sinaloa Cartel smuggle drugs north - KTVA 11 - The Voice of Alaska How Alaska residents help the Sinaloa Cartel smuggle drugs north - KTVA 11 - The Voice of Alaska

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How Alaska residents help the Sinaloa Cartel smuggle drugs north

Thursday, July 11th 2019, 5:10 PM AKDT

By: Daniella Rivera

In May of last year, a woman entered the United States from Mexico at the port of entry in Nogales, Arizona. The Alaska resident was headed home.

It's a trip she made several times, but this one was different.

She was stopped at a border patrol checkpoint north of Nogales, where she was found to have 200 grams of cocaine on her person.

The woman is identified as "Female Individual 2" in a federal court document that was sealed on Tuesday, after being accessible to the public for months. The document is a warrant filed by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent investigating the trafficking of drugs to Alaska.

Female Individual 2 was carrying roughly $20,000 worth of cocaine, according to a street value estimate from the Anchorage Police Department.

She represents a small piece of a puzzle that is largely kept secret: The inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) based in Sonora, Mexico.

The Sinaloa Cartel

Formerly run by El Chapo, prosecutors have called the Sinaloa Cartel "the world's largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization."

In its 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, the DEA states:

"Mexican TCOs remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group is currently positioned to challenge them. The Sinaloa Cartel maintains the most expansive footprint in the United States... [...] The Sinaloa Cartel exports and distributes wholesale amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl in the United States by maintaining distribution hubs in cities that include Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago."

The Sinaloa Cartel is also linked to the largest seizure of fentanyl in U.S. history -- 66 kilograms of fentanyl the DEA discovered in an apartment in Queens, New York in 2017.

"...the world's largest and most prolific drug trafficking organization."

According to the DEA, the Sinaloa Cartel utilizes subterranean tunnels leading from Mexico to safe houses on the other side of the border in the U.S. to smuggle drugs by the ton.

The cartel's methods were exposed during the trial of drug lord El Chapo, whose real name is Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera.

The Washington Post reported in January:

"The billions of dollars' worth of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana came through elaborate tunnels, including one built under the U.S.-Mexico border that originated below a pool table at an estate, Guzman's associates said. Drugs were hidden in trucks and trains, amid gallons of cooking oil and concealed in small cans of hot peppers, rolling through official entry points. Some came into the United States via container ships docking at Pacific ports. All of it was destined for sale in cities and towns across America."

Alaska's DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Root said the Sinaloa Cartel is the largest organization they deal with in Anchorage.

"A lot of our meth and heroin comes up through the Sinaloa Cartel," he explained. "A lot of it will stop in California or Washington, and then come up to Alaska through either the airlines or postal service or carriers -- a lot of it's body-carried or carried on a person."

User: KTVA 11 News To: link

When asked why cartels bother to send drugs all the way to Alaska, Root said it's all about the money.

"There's plenty of business everywhere, sadly, but there's also a demand up in the Anchorage area. [...] The prices they get, it makes it very lucrative for them to distribute up here," he explained.

Root likened it to shopping online and paying extra for shipping. The additional effort required to smuggle drugs north to Alaska drives a higher price point.

"The farther you're away from the flag pole, which is coming through Mexico, the higher the price goes up," he said. "They're pretty much paying somebody to do that extra step from the Lower 48 up to Alaska."

Alaskan recruits

The now-sealed warrant describes the journey of drugs to Alaska by person.

During an interview with Homeland Security Investigations agents, Female Individual 2 said she was working for a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, that she'd made roughly 10 similar trips, and she received a flat-rate payment of $2,000 per trip.

"FEMALE INDIVIDUAL 2 was hired to transport the cocaine on her person to Alaska on behalf of the Transnational Criminal Organization officers are investigating. FEMALE INDIVIDUAL 2 went on to state her duties consisted of not only transporting various drugs, but also recruiting and handling other female individuals to body carry drugs from Mexico to Alaska."

The woman told investigators she was a "team leader."

According to the warrant, team leaders are cartel workers sent from Mexico or Arizona to Alaska. They represent the organization while the drugs are being dispensed.

Female Individual 2 also told investigators the process for body-carrying drugs across the border had changed, following the arrest of a another Alaska woman who worked for the cartel.

"FEMALE INDIVIDUAL 2 went on to say that after she received possession of narcotics in Mexico, she was directed to turn over the narcotics to an unknown Mexican female individual in Nogales. Sonora. FEMALE INDIVIDUAL 2 would then cross the border, into the United States, and resume possession of the narcotics from the previously mentioned unknown Mexican female at a fast food restaurant in Nogales, Arizona."

According to the warrant, officers suspected the woman of being a drug user and she had a criminal history, which included charges for false information, assault, false report, vehicle theft and driving with a suspended license.

The document lists five women in total -- all Alaska residents -- believed to be couriers for the Sinaloa Cartel in May of last year.

Root believes dozens of Alaska women could be involved right now.

"It's a very dangerous game they're playing."

"It's usually younger women. They might not be college-educated, they might be struggling with say, raising a child on their own. They might have money issues. Their boyfriend talked them into doing this, their economic status is probably not that high, and they see a chance," he explained.

It's a dangerous game, according to Root. The package could rupture internally, with fatal consequences. And if something happens and the courier doesn't deliver, the individual waiting for the drugs could respond with violence.

"That's quick cash if you're not making your house payment, you're not making your rent payment or you have a mouth to feed, so they kind of get sucked into that system thinking they'll just do it once, they won't get caught and that isn't always the case," said Root.

When asked if the cartel is preying on Alaska's vulnerable populations, Root replied, "They really do. I've seen that for the last 24 years since I've been on DEA. They look for the weakest links that can use the money the most and kinda get them hooked into that lifestyle of, 'Hey, that's a quick $1,000. If I do it three times a week, that's $3,000 a week.' Quick, easy money and you're not paying taxes on it. Until you get caught, there's no repercussions."

Once the courier arrives at the Anchorage airport, the drugs are handed off to a cartel worker who has been sent to Alaska to distribute the drugs.

Tools of the trade

Information in the warrant stresses that chatting apps on cell phones are the Sinaloa Cartel's primary means of communicating, strategizing and organizing.

The applications can make it more difficult for investigators to trace conversations, however members of the cartel are still known to leave a significant paper trail.

Example of a drug ledger. (Source:

The warrant describes known methods of operation including the following:

* Cell phones (including burner phones and long-distance calling cards) are used "extensively" to communicate, coordinate and organize.

* Cartel workers are known to operate out of various Anchorage hotels, often using a car to leave the hotel for a drug deal, then returning.

* Members attempt to acquire firearms to carry during the distribution of drugs in Alaska.

* It is increasingly common for members to use direct cash deposits to move money.

* Members also use fraudulent identification to subscribe for telephone service, purchase travel arrangements, transfer funds, and rent storage facilities and residences.

* Drug trafficking organizations recruit couriers to transport drugs and money. They pay a flat rate, plus expenses.

* It is common for drug traffickers to take photos/videos of themselves together. They also take photos/videos with drugs, large sums of money, guns and expensive assets.

* Drug traffickers utilize foreign and domestic banks for services including cashier's checks, safe deposit boxes, and money drafts.

* The purchase/sale of real estate can be used to legitimize their profits.

* Businesses, both real and fictitious, are used to conceal distribution of drugs and money.

* Drug traffickers are often in possession of handwritten notes with instructions, deposit slips, ledgers containing business/client information etc.

Root doesn't believe the women transporting drugs are a threat to those around them, but said drug trafficking in general creates risk in our communities.

"I do believe gun violence and drug trafficking go hand in hand," he said.

"It's really not a victimless crime."

While the average citizen might not pick up on drug trafficking signs around them, Root believes Alaskans see the effects of the illegal narcotics industry daily.

"I think we notice it when our cars get broke into because drug addicts are out trying to make a quick buck stealing something out of your car. I think we notice it when we see people laying on the side of the park path, you know, overdosing from meth and heroin," he said. "I think it does affect our lives and sometimes, we're not dealing with, you know, that murder happened over there and it was between two drug dealers, but you know, that's our quality of life. That's our kids getting shot by a stray bullet or whatever, so really, it affects us, everybody in Alaska in one way or another."

Signs of drugs on a journey

Root says Alaskans can help by watching their loved ones for signs of addiction, sudden wealth and frequent, unexplained trips:

A large-scale investigation

The warrant references a dozen individuals who are all connected in some way.

The glimpse of the Sinaloa Cartel's intricate web of operatives offered in the warrant merely scratches the surface of the organization's structure but offers the most detailed look yet at how Alaskans are involved in the seemingly endless cycle of supply and demand.

" affects us, everybody in Alaska, in one way or another."

Information provided in the warrant was learned through the use of undercover agents, controlled buys, drug-sniffing K-9 units and cooperating defendants. The effort to disrupt the cartel spans several states and has been ongoing for years.

"We have numerous open investigations and our partners have numerous open investigations," Root said. "Sometimes they take a while. We have to, you know, prove these in court. We have to get search warrants, arrest warrants, we might do surveillance for three months. We do have an end game, we do go after the biggest and baddest traffickers. Sometimes it takes time, and we're continually making arrests and putting bad guys in jail. And we're gonna keep doing that."

As for the Sinaloa Cartel, Root can sum up the DEA's end game in two words.

"Total dismantlement."

Editor's note: Some information contained in the warrant has been intentionally withheld in the interest of an ongoing investigation.

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.


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analysis of article text

prohibitionist hits:0 government drug warrior (prohibition_agency) hits:15 propaganda (drugwar_propaganda) hits:73 legalization hits:0 drug_reformer hits:0 reform_referenda hits:0 cannabis hits:2 stimulant hits:9 narcotic hits:8 hallucinogen hits:0
    prohibitionist     prohibition_agency     drugwar_propaganda     legalization     drug_reformer
    reform_referenda     cannabis     stimulant     narcotic     hallucinogen

incarceration/prison mentioned? yes .

propaganda analysis

explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) hits:0 hated group (propaganda_theme1) hits:41 madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2) hits:24 survival of society (propaganda_theme3) hits:3 gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) hits:1 children (propaganda_theme5) hits:2 demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) hits:1 total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) hits:1 dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8) hits:0
EXP - explicit prohibition propaganda (explicit_propaganda) GRP - hated group (propaganda_theme1) MAD - madness, violence, illness (propaganda_theme2)
SOC - survival of society (propaganda_theme3) USE - gateway, use is abuse (propaganda_theme4) KID - children (propaganda_theme5)
WAR - demonize, war, epidemic (propaganda_theme6) TOT - total prohibition (propaganda_theme7) DIS - dissent opposed (propaganda_theme8)

 drug of abuse implied / mentioned

drug related
[news] [concept]

prohibition agency illegal drugs  
drugwar_propaganda : a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or themepropaganda

drugwar propaganda
[news] [concept]

propaganda theme1 propaganda theme2 propaganda theme3 propaganda theme5 propaganda theme6 propaganda theme7 propaganda theme4 Why Are Americans So Easy to Manipulate? (Bruce E Levine, 2012)
Classic Modern Drug Propaganda
Themes in Chemical Prohibition
Drug War Propaganda (kindle edition)
propaganda_theme1 : drug war propaganda theme: hated groupshated group

propaganda theme1
[news] [concept]

"drug user" "User" "drug addicts" "addicts" "drug dealers" "dealers" "Cartel" "cartels" "drug lord" "drug traffickers" "drug trafficking organization" "Drug trafficking organizations"41Hated Groups (propaganda theme 1)
America's Racist Drug laws
Labeling theory
Transfer (propaganda)
 addiction 60%
[news] [concept]
"addiction" "addicts" "hooked"3Twelve-Step Snake Oil (2012)
Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers (Thomas Szasz)
Rat Park
Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied? (2014)
propaganda_theme2 : drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugsmadness, violence, illness

propaganda theme2 70%
[news] [concept]

"violence" "overdose" "murder" "Crime" "Criminal" "dangerous" "fatal" "Threat" "death" "profits" addiction21Madness Crime Violence Illness (propaganda theme 2)
Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness
No, marijuana use doesn't lower your IQ (10/2014)
propaganda_theme3 : drug war propaganda theme: survival of societysurvival of society

propaganda theme3 60%
[news] [concept]

"America" "Homeland" "communities"3Survival of Society (propaganda theme 3)
The "Nation" as a Device To Create a Psychological Crowd
 use is abuse

use is abuse 60%
[news] [concept]

"drug user"1Use is Abuse (propaganda theme 4)
propaganda_theme4 : drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse, gatewaygateway, use is abuse

propaganda theme4 60%
[news] [concept]

use is abuse Use is Abuse, Gateway (propaganda theme 4)
propaganda_theme5 : drug war propaganda theme: children corrupted by drugschildren

propaganda theme5 60%
[news] [concept]

"child" "kids"2Children Corrupted (propaganda theme 5)
Think of the children
propaganda_theme6 : drug war propaganda theme: demonize; use of drugs is epidemic; wardemonize, war, epidemic

propaganda theme6 75%
[news] [concept]

"assault"1Demonize, War (propaganda theme 6)
List of Wars on Concepts
Perpetual war
The Failed War on Drugs (2012)
propaganda_theme7 : drug war propaganda theme: total prohibiton or accesstotal prohibition

propaganda theme7
[news] [concept]

"legitimize"1Total Prohibition or Access (propaganda theme 7)
 moral imperative
[news] [concept]
"We have to"2Majestic plural
Moral imperative
Categorical imperative
 drug of abuse

illegal drugs
[news] [concept]

cannabis narcotic various illegal drugs addiction stimulant  
 drugs 95%
[news] [concept]
various drugs  
prohibition_agency : various drug prohibition and propaganda agencies and police; tax-supported entities dependent on continuing prohibitiongovernment drug warrior

prohibition agency
[news] [concept]

"Police" "DEA" "Drug Enforcement" "prosecutors" "Drug Enforcement Administration" "Homeland Security" drug dog13Drug Enforcement Administration
The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal
 drug detecting canine

drug dog 75%
[news] [concept]

"K-9 units" "K-9"2Sniffer dogs get it wrong four out of five times (2011)
Clever Hans
 psychoactive chemical

[news] [concept]

cocaine heroin methamphetamine amphetamines opiate
 psychoactive plant

[news] [concept]

 psychoactive pharmaceutical

[news] [concept]

 euphoric depressant
[news] [concept]
heroin opiate  
 euphoric stimulant
[news] [concept]
cocaine methamphetamine  
[news] [concept]
fentanyl heroin opiate  
[news] [concept]
[news] [concept]
[news] [concept]
cocaine amphetamines  
[news] [concept]
"methamphetamine" "methamphetamines" "meth"
Amphetamines: The Swedish experience
[news] [concept]
"narcotics" opiate4Managing Pain
opiate : a substance derived from the opium poppyopiate
[news] [concept]
heroin Managing Pain
amphetamines : various amphetaminesamphetamines
[news] [concept]
methamphetamine The amphetamines - Consumers Union Report
Officially Approved US Military Speed/Amphetamine Use
cocaine : cocaine; any formcocaine
[news] [concept]
[news] [concept]
Managing Pain
cannabis : cannabis (marijuana) product or usecannabis
[news] [concept]
"marijuana"2Cannabis: Religious and Spiritual Uses
Cannabis-Driving Studies Cannabis Link DB
Schaffer Library: Marijuana
U.S. Prisons Thriving on Jim Crow Marijuana Arrests (2013)

[news] [concept]

 various drugs 95%
[news] [concept]
"drugs" "Drug" "drug-sniffing"63 
 various illegal drugs
[news] [concept]
"drug user" "drug trafficking" "drug traffickers" "drug deal" "drug dealers" "drug lord"
DEA's Drugs of Abuse booklet
[news] [concept]
"jail"1Prison Hell in America (Stephen Lendman, Oct. 2011)
Understanding the U.S. Torture State
this is what a police state looks like
Torture and the United States and... drugs.htm
US Official Prison Policy: Encourage Men's Rape (2014)
Profit Driven Prison Industrial Complex (2012)
The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal
Sing a Little Louder
Prison Rape Widely Ignored by Authorities
Push Back Against Drug War Profiteering with Jury Nullification
 youth 60%
[news] [concept]
propaganda theme5
[news] [concept]
 aggrandizing government

[news] [concept]

"official"1Statism: the Most Dangerous Religion (2014 video)
What is Statism?
Conservapedia: Statism
Wikipedia: Statolatry
Bought Priesthood
Worship of the U. S. Government (2011)
Bureaucratic Thrust
Tyranny of Experts
The Threat of Authority (2012)
The Media As Enablers of Government Lies
The Statist Mindset (Jacob Hornberger, 2011)
Thinking Critically about Experts and Authority
'Scientific' evidence for FDA-approved drugs isn't so scientific, it turns out (2014)
The Intellectual Gravy Train (2015)
 mainstream (controlled) media

[news] [concept]

mockingbird Mainstream Media
Michael Levine, Mainstream Media: The Drug War Shills
Mainstream Media: The Most Significant Threat To Freedom
 Mockingbird / Wurlitzer; US intel-controlled media

[news] [concept]

"Washington Post"1Operation Mockingbird - Mighty Wurlitzer cia a...
US Media Conceals News (2013)
Two of the Largest American Newspapers Opine in Favor of Allowing States to Legalize Marijuana (2012)
Propaganda 101: Operation Mockingbird Continues (2015)

st:0.01 fo:0 s:0.01 d:2.09 c:0.11 db:0.119 a:0.81 m:0.93 t:4.32 (f)

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    article tags


    mockingbird concept - documented US intel controlled media: newspapers, tv, radio - various press associated with known intel ops such as, "Operation Mockingbird", "Mighty Wurlitzer", etc.
    msm concept - mainstream media - corporate, government controlled press: newspaper, tv, radio, websites; press associated with known intel ops such as, "Operation Mockingbird", "Mighty Wurlitzer", Tavistock Institute, etc.
    aggrandizement concept - terms of aggrandizement (of government)
    school concept
    youth concept
    incarceration concept - Prisons, Jails and Probation
    various_illegal_drugs concept - general terms for illegal drugs
    various_drugs concept - general terms for drugs
    fentanyl concept - Fentanyl is a short-acting synthetic opiate analgesic which is active at very low doses. Its effects are compared to heroin and it has been sold on the street as heroin, causing some deaths. (N-(1-phenethyl-4-piperidyl)propionanilide)
    cannabis concept - cannabis (marijuana) product or use
    heroin concept - heroin, heroine, diamorphine
    cocaine concept - cocaine; any form
    amphetamines concept - various amphetamines
    opiate concept - a substance derived from the opium poppy
    narcotic concept - a drug that dulls senses, relieves pain, induces sleep
    methamphetamine concept - methamphetamine
    stimulant concept - a substance that produces stimulation
    intoxicant concept
    anesthetic concept
    analgesic concept
    euphoric_stimulant concept
    euphoric_depressant concept
    pharms concept - Psychoactive Pharmaceuticals are over-the-counter or prescription chemicals approved for human medicinal use, with mind- or emotion-altering properties
    plants concept - Plants listed in this section are those which have been used by humans for their mind- or emotion-altering properties.
    chemicals concept - Psychoactive Chemicals are chemicals which have mind- or emotion-altering properties.
    drug_dog concept - canine used to detect illegal drugs
    prohibition_agency concept - various drug prohibition and propaganda agencies and police; tax-supported entities dependent on continuing prohibition
    drugs concept
    illegal_drugs concept - drugs of abuse, so-called
    moral_imperative concept
    propaganda_theme7 concept - drug war propaganda theme: total prohibiton or access
    propaganda_theme6 concept - drug war propaganda theme: demonize; use of drugs is epidemic; war
    propaganda_theme5 concept - drug war propaganda theme: children corrupted by drugs
    propaganda_theme4 concept - drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse, gateway
    use_is_abuse concept - drug war propaganda theme: all use is abuse
    propaganda_theme3 concept - drug war propaganda theme: survival of society
    propaganda_theme2 concept - drug war propaganda theme: madness, violence, illness caused by drugs
    addiction concept - addition or drug dependency
    propaganda_theme1 concept - drug war propaganda theme: hated groups
    drugwar_propaganda concept - a drug war propaganda event, campaign release, slogan, or theme
    drug_related concept - related to illegal drugs and prohibition