An alleged “drug kingpin” has been arrested for importing heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine directly from Mexico to Alaska, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
Miguel Baez Guevara, 38, was indicted on 17 counts related to his leadership and role in trafficking narcotics to Alaska, according to a news release from the federal agency. Guevara, a United States citizen living in Mexico, was arrested last week by Mexican immigration authorities and deported to the United States.
Guevara’s network specifically targeted Alaska because they received higher profits for the drugs due to Alaska’s significant distance from the Mexican source of supply, according to the unsealed federal indictment.
Guevara claimed to be associated with the Sinaloa Cartel and reportedly used social media and encrypted messages to recruit drug couriers who lived in Alaska, the release stated. The couriers were promised money or drugs in exchange for traveling to Mexico to collect the narcotics and transport them back to Alaska.
Once the couriers arrived in Alaska, a member of Guevara’s network would collect the drugs and distribute them to street-level dealers in Alaska, according to the release. The couriers typically carried about 250 grams of narcotics on each trip.
Guevara pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court and will remain detained in Arizona pending his transfer to Alaska, the release stated.
The indictment and arrest are part of an ongoing, large-scale drug trafficking investigation dubbed “Operation Albondiga” which has resulted in the arrest and criminal charges of 23 individuals since 2016.