Testimony: Shortly after September 11, the Mexican army began destroying the underground airfields of the Sinaloa cartel

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The United States had just suffered one of its biggest terrorist attacks when Mexican soldiers launched an operation to destroy makeshift airfields created by the Sinaloa cartel just south of the border, thereby changing the method of transporting drugs from the criminal organization to the border. .

An informant said during the trial of two members of the Sinaloa cartel in federal court that in the aftermath of September 11, US authorities identified the airfields and communicated their locations to the Mexican government.

For years, the Sinaloa cartel had trafficked thousands of kilograms of cocaine by air, but would change its delivery method to show its ingenuity, brutality and reach.

Arturo Shows Urquidi and Mario Alberto Iglesias, two prominent members of Sinaloa, are on trial in a US court in El Paso. The trial took a hiatus on Friday and is expected to continue next week.

Arturo shows Urquidi. / Courtesy of the US Drug Enforcement Agency

Several witnesses testified, including former members of the cartel and Mexican police officers who witnessed the development of Sinaloa in Juárez in the mid-2000s.

The trials are part of a grand indictment by a federal grand jury that included Sinaloa cartel leaders Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Ismael “Mayo” Zambada Garcia. On April 24, 2012, the leaders and 22 other members of the cartel were charged with criminal activities ranging from drug trafficking to conspiracy to kill in a foreign country.

David Sanchez Hernandez, a former police sergeant in Juárez and Ricardo Rodriguez, a former cartel member, told a jury that the cartel had started using tankers to transport drugs across the border. Packages of cocaine arrived in Juárez in secret compartments lined up inside the vehicles.

The drivers unloaded the drugs in front of the members of the cartel, because they were the only ones to know the secret compartments of the vehicle.

Packages of cocaine were sometimes stamped with the logo of a car brand, which included Audi, Jaguar, Volkswagen. They also sometimes had a star and the cartoon character Mimin Pinguin.

The stamps meant the cocaine inside had been tested, according to Sanchez, who helped sort out the drugs. He said Urquidi, a former Chihuahua state police officer, would also help sort the drugs and then transport them to shelters in Juárez.

Sanchez told jurors that the counts were always accurate and the drug supply was always counted because suppliers counted drugs in front of drivers to discourage drug theft.

The emptied tankers would then be filled with gasoline and other illicit items, including guns and drug money. He said 50 caliber rifles, AR-15s, .38 super handguns, 5.7 ammunition, AK-47s and other forms of ammunition have been returned to central Mexico.

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