5 Alleged Sinaloa Cartel Members Indicted in Chicago on Cocaine Conspiracy Charges

Seal of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (in case citations, N.D. Ill.)
In a 43-page federal criminal complaint, El Chapo’s name is only mentioned once. The drug lord was long behind bars when the feds moved in, but the alleged Sinaloa Cartel takedown by federal authorities in Chicago reads like El Chapo’s playbook for how operatives smuggle drugs from South America through Mexico and straight to Chicago.

In court documents made public Thursday, one major trafficking operation run by the Sinaloa Cartel is detailed in an unsealed complaint and indictment against five accused Sinaloa associates; including Roberto Velazquez Martinez recently extradited to Chicago from Peru and a resident of southwest suburban Stickney, 44-year-old Louis Reyes Velez.

The defendants allegedly worked together to attempt to import and distribute cocaine into the U.S. on behalf of the cartel.

The following men have been charged with intent to distribute.
  • Roberto Velazquez Martinez, 36, of Santiago Papasquiaro, Mexico
  • Camilo Alvarez, 44, of Durango, Mexico
  • Jose Hernandez Ramirez, 36, of Tamaulipas, Mexico
  • Ines Chaces Rodriguez, 36, of Santiago Papasquiaro, Mexico
  • Louis Reyes Velez, 44, of Stickney
The charges allege that Velaquez Martinez traveled to Chicago in 2018 to attempt to arrange a multi-kilogram cocaine shipment. A criminal complaint filed in Chicago alleged he masterminded the narcotics transaction, which allegedly involved flying some 375 kilograms of cocaine via private jet from Honduras to Mexico, where corrupt police officers would then escort the shipment to the U.S. border, court records show.
Unbeknownst to him, authorities said two co-conspirators were undercover with U.S. law enforcement. Alvarez, Hernandez Ramirez, and Chavez Rodriguez are believed to be residing in Mexico. U.S. warrants for their arrests have been issued. 

Prosecutors allege some of the multi-million dollar cartel cocaine deals allegedly went down in a garage on Wisconsin Avenue in Stickney, the suburb where Reyes Velez lives. Federal prosecutors told the I-Team that a judge ordered Reyes Velez released on bond Thursday afternoon.

The complaint describes how police in Mexico were bribed, explaining “a police official would assure the safety of delivery of cocaine to the airstrip in Durango.” One of those charged is allegedly heard to say on an undercover recording: “From there to the border…all the police is paid for.”

Investigators also described in court documents how the cartel would use cars with secret trapped doors and hidden panels. The Sinaloa crew is accused of hiding dozens of bricks of cocaine in one transport vehicle to Chicago and to get the drugs here to the streets, Sinaloa used a fleet of cars and planes. This played out two years after the ruthless kingpin El Chapo was arrested and locked up in the U.S., even though authorities believe several of his sons continue to call the shots in Mexico.

According to prosecutors, two of the major unnamed informants who penetrated the cartel when Chapo was still free, ended up toppling this Chicago organization years later. The tandem informants are both convicted felons and not American citizens. Since 2012, working undercover inside the Sinaloa cartel, one informant was paid more than $1 million by the U.S. government and the other, $250,000.