Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday thanked his Mexican counterparts for their efforts to combat drug trafficking, after officers arrested suspected cartel security chief Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas.
“Shortly after the apprehension of El Nini, I spoke with Mexican Attorney General Gertz to thank him for the extraordinary efforts of the Mexican authorities who made the arrest, and to whom we are all grateful for their courage,” Garland said in a statement.
The attorney general confirmed that Pérez Salas — known as “El Nini” — was captured.
Garland also reiterated the Biden administration’s “aggressive approach” to disrupting and dismantling the Sinaloa drug cartel — pointing to an announcement earlier this month of charges against 23 members of the cartel.
“The Justice Department is grateful to our Mexican counterparts for their work in that effort,” Garland said, adding “we remain committed to doing everything in our power to dismantle the dangerous drug trafficking cartels that are responsible for death and devastation in both the United States and Mexico.”
El Nini’s arrest comes just over two months after the son of infamous Mexican cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited to the U.S. to face trafficking charges. Ovidio Guzmán López pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Chicago court.
Garland said he also thanked Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for that arrest.
The Justice Department is now waiting for El Nini to be extradicted to the U.S. to face his charges, the attorney general noted.
“Until his apprehension, El Nini led security operations for the Chapitos,” he said, referring to a wing of the famed Sinaloa drug cartel. “And we allege that he and his security forces murdered, tortured, and kidnapped rivals, witnesses, and others who opposed the Chapitos.”
“We are now seeking El Nini’s swift extradition from Mexico to face justice here in the United States,” the attorney general added.
President Biden also showed gratitude to the Mexican government for their capture of cartel leaders.
“These arrests are testament to the commitment between the United States and Mexico to secure our communities against violence, counter the cartels, and end the scourge of illicit fentanyl that is hurting so many families,” Biden said in his statement.
“We will continue working as strong partners to do everything possible to hold criminals accountable for jeopardizing public health and safety in our two countries,” he added.