Cartel leader receives two life sentences plus 20 years in federal prison

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U.S. District Judge Alia Moses has sentenced 38-year-old Juan Francisco “Kiko” Trevino Chavez to two consecutive life imprisonment sentences, plus 20 years in federal prison.

Trevino is the nephew of Los Zetas leaders Miguel Angel Trevino Morales (Z-40) and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales (Z-42).

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Moses ordered Trevino pay a $2 million fine and a $2 million money judgment.

On July 24, 2018, a jury convicted the defendant on one count each of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import marijuana, unlawful distribution of controlled substances (extraterritorial), conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Evidence presented at the trial revealed from 2004 until September 2016, the defendant was a member of the Los Zetas – a transnational drug trafficking organization operating primarily in the Mexican corridors of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Ciudad Acuna and Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

Evidence further revealed Kiko Trevino worked with and conspired with the highest level operatives in the criminal organization, including his uncles, Z-40 and Z-42. Evidence also revealed Kiko Trevino organized the source and distribution of large quantities of narcotics, laundered drug proceeds and controlled cells of traffickers and a group of armed sicarios in the Nueva Laredo area. The trial evidence showed the defendant participated in the trafficking of more than 250,000 kilos of cocaine, hundreds of thousands of kilos of marijuana and hundreds of firearms.

The evidence further described the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds.

Finally, trial testimony revealed after his uncles’ arrests, Los Zetas splintered into two groups and Kiko Trevino took over leadership of one of those two groups, the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN). In this role, he controlled all of the drug and firearm trafficking, enforcement and money laundering operations of CDN. Trevino continued in this leadership role until his arrest in 2016.

Kiko Trevino has remained in federal custody since his arrest in Baytown, TX, on September 28, 2016. This federal prosecution resulted from multiple Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operations and investigations.

U-S Attorney Russ Leachman says “Kiko” Trevino-Chavez is the highest ranking leader of the cartel Los Zetas to ever be tried and sentenced in the United States. He said Trevino-Chavez’s action had horrific consequences on the country and this case is much more significant than any typical drug case.  


“The evidence indicated this particular individual was responsible directly and involved in transporting about a quarter million kilos of cocaine. The estimated value of that was in the billions, ” said Leachman. 

Prosecutors say Trevino-Chavez was tried in Waco because over 45-thousand pounds of marijuana and substantial amounts of cash seized from North Waco homes. Prosecutors say Trevino-Chavez sent some  of those drugs  to the Escobar cartel in Laredo — while some went to Dallas.


“There was a distrubuter for the Zetas in Dallas who testified that more than 35,000 kilos of cocaine came through the I-35 corridor through Waco,” said Leachman.


Officials hope the sentencing will be a warning to drug traffickers. 


“We’re working on it the cases are being put together and those that traffick weapons, drugs, and money will caught and will be prosecuted,” said Leachman.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

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