Alleged Ojinaga cartel leader from Pecos arrested
MEXICO CITY – A top leader of the Juárez drug cartel who was born in the United States was arrested Friday night in Mexico City, federal police authorities told the Associated Press.
Benjamin Valeriano Jr., also known as “El Cachitas,” was identified as one of the main operators of the Juárez cartel. According to authorities, he worked for Guillermo Castillo Rubio, “El Pariente,” who was arrested in 2012 and who was considered the second in command after Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who is known as “El Viceroy.”
Valeriano, 32, was born in Pecos, and allegedly started his criminal career in 1998 distributing drugs in the United States, Mexican officials said. Later, he moved to Ojinaga, Chihuahua, where he was allegedly moving drugs from Parral, Jiménez, Camargo, Manuel Benavides and Villa Ahumada, Mexican authorities said.
Valeriano is on the most-wanted list of the Drug Enforcement Administration in El Paso. He was charged with continuing a criminal enterprise and conspiracy.
An affidavit in support of his extradition was filed in U.S. District Court in Pecos on November 21, 2011.
The affidavit is based on Crispin Borunda-Cardenas’ deposition in which he, as the former leader of a drug-trafficking organization in Chihuahua, stated that in 1997, Valeriano smuggled large quantities of marijuana from Mexico to the United States for his organization.
The affidavit states, “Valeriano was very successful and quickly began to oversee some marijuana smuggling operations for me. From 1997 through 2003, Valeriano conspired with me and others, both known and not known, to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.”
In the affidavit, Borunda-Cardenas said that he and Valeriano began to have problems about 2004 because other people were running their own drug-trafficking organization.
By that time, the affidavit continues, Carrillo Fuentes took control of the distribution of marijuana in Ojinaga. Then Carrillo Fuentes put Valeriano in charge of the “Ojinaga plaza.”
Valeriano became part of the Juárez cartel command, almost at the same time that José Luis Ledezma, also known as “El JL,” became the leader of “La Línea,” the armed branch of the organization.
In January, a joint effort by the DEA, Ector County Sheriff’s Office and Midland Police Department resulted in the seizure of kilos of cocaine and hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics as well as dozens of arrests in West Texas.
“Valeriano’s domestic sales here in the Midland-Odessa area were selling multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine on a monthly basis,” Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Division said at the time. “To put it into perspective, a kilogram of cocaine on the wholesale market sells for anywhere between $20,000 to $24,000 per kilo. They were doing on average 10 to 20 kilos in this area per month.”
Valeriano was arrested in Lomas de Chapultepec, a wealthy neighborhood in Mexico City, where he supposedly moved after the arrest of José Antonio Acosta Hernández, also known as “El Diego.” Acosta Hernández was recently extradited to the U.S.