Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat TY J SanDiegoTribune
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán had several private secretaries, who changed their shifts to ensure that there was always someone to attend the alleged leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, but above all, to take care of their safety, he revealed information from federal prosecutors and witnesses such as Alex Cifuentes.
However, there was a special confidant in the circle near the native of Qualiacán, Sinaloa, [as reported in court documents] who faces trial in a federal court in Brooklyn. This is “Nariz”, which Cifuentes described as a man who reviewed everything that came “at the hands” of Guzmán Loera. He was the final filter, according to the Colombian, who was one of the close collaborators of the Mexican.
In several moments of the trial the name of “Nariz” has come to light, but it was during the testimony of Mexican-American Víctor Vásquez, agent of the DEA, when the character became relevant, since it was he who guided the Navy personnel in operational of five houses in search of Guzmán Loera, in addition to telephone conversations confirmed the type of relationship he had with the “Manager”, as he came to refer to his boss. Tribune article below
Full docket text for document 85:Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler: Government oral motion to unseal the case is granted. Arraignment on Indictment and Initial Appearance as to Mario Hidalgo-Arguello (1) Count 1,2 held on 1/21/2020. Not Guilty plea entered. Appointed Attorney Sandra Corine Lechman(n/a) for Mario Hidalgo-Arguello. Bond set as to Mario Hidalgo-Arguello (1) No Bail. Government oral motion to detain (Flight). ( Detention Hearing – RF set for 1/23/2020 10:00 AM before Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler.) ( Motion Hearing/Trial Setting set for 3/2/2020 02:00 PM before Judge William Q. Hayes)
SAN DIEGO — The reputed personal assistant for drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera and a key link in the hunt for the kingpin has been extradited to San Diego to face marijuana trafficking charges.
Mario Hidalgo Arguello — known as “Nariz” or “Nose” — was brought to the United States a week ago Saturday, six years after his arrest in Mexico, according to newly unsealed court filings.
He is among a handful of high-ranking cartel targets who’ve been quietly extradited in the past month after waiting for years in Mexican custody. U.S. authorities have not publicly announced any of the extraditions. The Department of Justice on Friday declined to comment on what has prompted the sudden surge of long sought-after suspects.
Hidalgo was arrested in February 2014 at his home in Culiacán, Sinaloa — the stronghold of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
“Mario Hidalgo Arguello is a subject who belongs to the top circle of the criminal organization,” the Mexican federal Attorney General’s Office said at the time.
The larger significance of his arrest later became clear.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Victor Vazquez, who was part of the manhunt for Guzmán in Mexico, testified in Guzman’s blockbuster criminal trial in Brooklyn last January. He described how Mexican authorities zeroed in on Guzmán’s inner circle, including the man known for his unusual nose. He did not actually name Hidalgo in his testimony, referring to him only as Nariz.
“We knew Nariz was an individual, a runner for Guzmán Loera, a gopher, an individual that would go and retrieve things for Guzmán Loera, an individual that knew all his houses, his cars, locations, where Guzmán Loera spent his time in the city of Culiacán,” Vazquez testified. “He knew absolutely everything about Guzmán Loera.”
Vazquez and a contingent of Mexican marines showed up at Nariz’s home late one night, eventually finding him hiding in his master bedroom, according to a transcript of the agent’s testimony.
Nariz turned on Guzmán immediately and gave up the kingpin’s network of nearby hideouts. He took them to where Guzmán had been hiding, but while the marines were using battering rams to enter, the kingpin escaped through a tunnel under a bathtub. Nariz then took the marines on a tour of Guzmán’s other nearby safe houses but did not find him.
Other evidence, as well as cooperation from other close associates, ultimately led the marines to a hideout in Mazatlán about a week later, where Guzmán was captured.
Hidalgo, in Mexican custody, was indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury in May 2015 on a marijuana-trafficking conspiracy, along with two co-defendants. The charges against him were unsealed on Monday with his first court appearance in the United States.
One co-conspirator has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import methamphetamine in a separate case and is set to be sentenced Monday, while the other pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to 60 months in prison.
According to a court filing by prosecutors, the marijuana case against Hidalgo’s co-defendants involved a yacht named Out Hook’n. In 2012, the boat was maintained in National City, then motored to the Cabo San Lucas coast to receive 6,100 kilograms of marijuana. The boat returned to U.S. waters weeks later and docked at the H&M Landing in Point Loma.
DEA agents watched as suitcases were offloaded from the boat into an SUV. The boat was then taken to Long Beach, where agents observed more bundles being offloaded into a rented box truck, according to prosecutors.
Agents searched the boat and seized 679 large bricks of marijuana, in addition to the drugs that had already been offloaded.
The court documents do not detail how Hidalgo allegedly fit into the yacht scheme. A not guilty plea has been entered on his behalf. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Another alleged Sinaloa associate was extradited to San Diego this month. Jose Sanchez Villalobos is accused of building and overseeing Guzmán’s sophisticated network of tunnels used to smuggle drugs across the border in the U.S.
In December, other high-profile cartel targets came to San Diego: Ismael Zambada Imperial — the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, who has led the Sinaloa cartel alongside Guzmán — and Gustavo Rivera, alleged to be a leader in the rival Arellano Félix Organization in Tijuana.
A handful of others were reportedly extradited to other parts of the U.S., representing Sinaloa and other cartels. However, some of those reported extraditions have not been confirmed, as they do not appear on U.S. court dockets.