It is a well known fact that Joaquin ‘‘El Chapo’’ Guzman and his Sinaloa cartel are responsible for the bulk of cocaine and heroin circulating throughout the world. This especially true for the United States. Yesterday, Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in an attempt to further the cartel’s narcotics empire in America.
In New Hampshire federal court, Valenzuela was seen and heard on video and audio recorded while conspiring to smuggle drugs with undercover FBI agents posing as members of a European crime syndicate looking to get drugs into the US and Europe. Boston.com reports:
Valenzuela and others in the cartel promised to deliver a thousand kilograms, or 2,200 pounds, of cocaine plus methamphetamine and heroin. One of the meetings between cartel members and agents took place in April 2011 in New Hampshire.
In 2011, three ‘‘test’’ deliveries of fruit were made to assure the defendants that they were not dealing with law enforcement. The successful dry runs ultimately led to a cocaine delivery.
Valenzuela was scheduled to be sentenced in May, but his lawyers won a postponement on the grounds that the deal was to get the drugs into Europe and not the United States, therefore the United States could not prosecute. They said the only ones talking about shipping the weight through/to the United States were the FBI agents, who were thirsty for the capture of El Chapo. Though the cartel members considered this, their lawyers stressed that they rejected the offer to use the United States at all during this conspiracy.
Nevertheless, Valenzuela joins the already-sentenced Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela, Jesus Gonzalo Palazuelo Soto, Jesus Manuel Gutierrez Guzman (El Chapo’s cousin). He faced more than 30 years behind bars. ‘‘This case illustrates that drug cartels based in foreign countries will go anywhere to distribute their deadly products,’’ said acting United States Attorney Donald Feith. ‘‘Mr. Celaya Valenzuela served as a representative of one of the world’s wealthiest and deadliest drug organizations.’’