U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Hampshire
(603) 225-1552
December 7, 2015

Sinaloa Cartel Member Sentenced to 17 Years in Federal Prison for Cocaine Drug Conspiracy

CONCORD, NH—Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith announced today that Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, 40 of Hermosillo, Mexico was sentenced today to 17 years in federal prison after being convicted by a jury of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.

A grand jury for the District of New Hampshire originally charged Celaya Valenzuela and seven coconspirators including Joaquin Guzman-Loera, a/k/a “Chapo” with the drug conspiracy in June 2011. A grand jury returned a superseding indictment in July 2012; shortly before Celaya Valenzuela’s arrest in Spain on August 7, 2012 conspirators Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela, Jesus Gonzalo Palazuelo Soto, and Jesus Manuel Gutierrez Guzman arrived there to monitor the delivery of 346 kilograms of cocaine to Algeciras, Spain. The cocaine was delivered to a European port for eventual redistribution in Europe and the United States. The delivery resulted from negotiations between members of the Sinaloa Cartel led by Chapo and undercover agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation posing as members of an organized crime syndicate.

During the period of the negotiations there were numerous meetings with members of the conspiracy in the United States, including an April 2011 meeting in New Castle, New Hampshire, and a March 2011 meeting in Madrid, Spain to finalize the terms of the first delivery. During this time, three “test” deliveries of fruit were made to provide assurance to the conspirators that they were not dealing with law enforcement. The success of the test deliveries led to the ultimate delivery of the cocaine.

“This case illustrates that drug cartels based in foreign countries will go anywhere to distribute their deadly products,” stated Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith. “Mr. Celaya Valenzuela served as a representative of one of the world’s wealthiest and deadliest drug organizations. Without the work of dedicated agents from the FBI, the Boston Police Department, and the Spanish National Police, this long term investigation would not have been successful. I commend these agencies for their determination to bring these individuals to justice.”

Celaya Valenzuela will be deported to Mexico upon his release.

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