Criminal JusticeFederalImmigration & BorderGulf Cartel Leader Indicted in Brownsville Faces Life Imprisonment, Feds Announce

The defendant is currently in Mexico “pending litigation on the U.S.’s extradition request,” according to the U.S. government.
April 4, 2022
The leader of the Gulf Cartel, 42-year-old Jose Alfredo Cardenas-Martinez, was indicted in November on charges of drug trafficking and an international conspiracy that could send him to prison for life and result in a $10 million fine, according to an announcement last month by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

A federal grand jury in Brownsville indicted Cardenas-Martinez, who is also known as “El Contador,” on November 10 of last year. The DOJ’s press release stated that Cardenas-Martinez is still in Mexican custody “pending litigation on the U.S.’s extradition request.”

The government stated that Cardenas-Martinez has been the leader of the Gulf Cartel since 2015. He assumed the role after the previous leader, Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sanchez, was convicted in the U.S. and is waiting to be sentenced to prison. Cardenas-Martinez’s uncle, Oziel Cardenas-Guillen, is also currently serving a prison sentence in the U.S. and was the family cartel’s leader before Costilla-Sanchez, according to the DOJ.

Daniel Comeaux, a special agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration, commented on the impact the indictment will have on the cartel, which is headquartered in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

“The arrest of Jose Alfredo Cardenas-Martinez serves a tough blow to the Gulf Cartel Organization,” Comeaux said in the press release. “It is the culmination of a successful international drug investigation which should disrupt the Gulf Cartel’s ability to smuggle drugs into Texas and other communities.”

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Additionally, Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) described the investigation itself.

“Through the joint investigation from our office in Harlingen, in coordination with our Attaché in Mexico and other partners, we were able to gather significant evidence that was instrumental in the case against ‘El Contador,’” Folden remarked.

“HSI and our law enforcement partners will continue to coordinate to dismantle any suspected transnational criminal organizations that threaten public safety.”

Specifically, the DOJ said that Cardenas-Martinez is accused of possessing with intent to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. The nine-count indictment also alleges that he “coordinated the shipment of narcotics to the United States for illegal sale across the country.”


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."