A member of the criminal organization traveled to Vienna to meet with Austrian traffickers. His task was to acquire weapons and tactical equipment, but months later he was arrested
As part of the intelligence work to dismantle drug trafficking networks, the Drug Control Administration (DEA) detected a new route used by the Sinaloa Cartel to traffic firearms from the old continent.
This is the first time that it has been revealed that the criminal organization led by Ismael Zambada García and the sons of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán contacted Austrian traffickers to stock up on weapons and tactical equipment, which is used in their criminal operations.
It was in the month of December of last year when a member of the Sinaloa Cartel traveled to Vienna, Austria, to acquire rifles, grenades and pistols. Part of the payment was made with cash and the rest was compensated with the synthetic opioid that has caused a public health crisis in the United States: fentanyl, according to the journalist Ángel Hernández from Milenio.
Anastacio Soto Vega, alias Tachin, was in charge of carrying out this task. Between December 14 and 15, he held a meeting with Austrian dealers to acquire the weapons. Among the products offered were AK-47s, but he leaned towards 500 “AR 15″ rifles, half of which were equipped with M-203 grenade launchers.
Likewise, it acquired 20 propelled rocket grenades and 500 bulletproof vests, as detailed in an indictment filed by the Southern District Court of New York against four alleged traffickers: the brothers Leobardo and Martín García Corrales, Humberto Beltrán Cuen, alias Don Chino, and Anastacio Soto Vega.
“During a series of meetings on or about December 14 and 15, 2022 in Vienna, Austria, Anastacio Soto inspected a series of military-grade weapons on behalf of Martín García Corrales, Leobardo García Corrales and Beltrán Cuen, in an exchange of weapons for fentanyl,” said the US Department of Justice.
The fentanyl payment was made in February 2023 at various locations in and around Los Angeles, California. In total, 33 kilograms of drugs were compensated. On day two, 18 kilograms of the synthetic opioid were delivered and 11 days later another 14 kilos were transferred by associates of Martín García Corrales, alias Tano and/or Cachuchas.
The fentanyl that the United States operators received was delivered in several blocks sealed with black and blue tape, which were hidden in cardboard boxes, as can be seen in the images shared by the authorities of that country.
Due to these activities, the García Corrales brothers, Beltrán Cuen and Anastacio Soto Vega face three charges: conspiracy to import fentanyl into US territory, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, as well as conspiracy to possess machine guns and firearms.
Soto Vega was arrested on March 18 of this year in Athens, Greece, under a provisional arrest warrant. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States. For his part, the State Department is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to his conviction.
According to the DEA, a faction of the Sinaloa Cartel that traffics fentanyl is led by Leobardo García Corrales, for which the DEA is offering a reward of up to USD 4 million in exchange for reports that lead to his arrest.
As for the brothers Iván Archivaldo and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar -the two main leaders of “Los Chapitos”-, a reward of up to USD 10 million is offered, in addition to being on the list of the 10 most wanted drug traffickers by the DEA , due to his responsibility in fentanyl trafficking