Gulf Cartel Kingpin Trial Kept Secret Out of Fear
While $23.5 million would seem like a fortune to most, it is truly only a small fraction when it comes to the amount of money smuggled in and out of the United States by illegal drug cartels.
A piece in The Monitor reported that federal agents have seized more than $23.5 million linked to former Gulf Cartel kingpin Osiel Cárdenas Guillén in the two years since his extradition from Mexico. The government hopes to recoup a total of $300 million.
Government motions outline the seizures of the cash – all of which occurred between October 2008 and September 2009. Fillings also included a request from Cárdenas’ lawyers, seeking placement for him in a federal detention center in Houston.
“The defendant’s alleged position within a large-scale drug trafficking organization elevates security concerns far beyond those present in typical cases involving controlled substances, conspiracy and possession charges,” the judge wrote in the March 2007 order.
Cárdenas is accused of leading the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel between 1996 and 2003. He has been held in solitary confinement since Mexican authorities extradited him the United States in 2007 in order to face pending charges.
Since that time, federal prosecutors and defense attorneys have refused to discuss the facts surrounding his case. Much of the proceedings remain sealed for fear that if released, the public safety of individuals would be placed in danger. It could also jeopardize ongoing investigations and the defendant’s right to a fair trial could be compromised.
The filings addresses the cash seizures do not address where the funds were found or whether or not there were any arrests at the time of the seizures. The documents also do not explain how prosecutors plan to link the money to Cárdenas, especially given the fact he was already incarcerated when the money was taken into custody.