Officials arrest ‘drug kingpin’ who’s accused of trafficking drugs from Mexico to Alaska

Bryan Wilson, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, speaking at a news conference on Sep 15, 2021. The Alaska Department of Justice announced the arrest 38-year-old Miguel Baez Guevara for drug trafficking in connection with the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Federal prosecutors say a so-called “drug kingpin” has been arrested for leading a network that trafficked cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico to Alaska. 

Miguel Baez Guevara, 38, faces 17 criminal counts, prosecutors announced Wednesday in Anchorage.

An indictment against Guevara says he and his group specifically targeted Alaska because they could sell the drugs at a higher rate, due to the state’s distance from the supply in Mexico. Guevara claimed membership and association with the Sinaloa Cartel operating in Sonora, Mexico, according to the indictment, which was handed down in February and unsealed Wednesday.

Among the charges against Guevara is a criminal count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, also referred to as the “kingpin statute.”

“The statute was enacted to reach the top brass in drug trafficking organizations,” said Bryan Wilson, acting U.S. Attorney for Alaska. “It specifically targets large scale profit making enterprises engaged in the illegal importation, manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. A conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.”

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According to the indictment, this is how the alleged drug conspiracy worked:

Starting in 2016, Guevara and others within his group hired female drug couriers from Alaska. They would recruit them through social media platforms and encrypted texting applications.

They booked the couriers flights from Alaska to Arizona and then arranged travel into Mexico. Each courier would carry about 250 grams of narcotics back to the U.S., and after several days waiting in Arizona, the couriers were flown to Alaska with the drugs. They were paid in cash, meth or heroin.

Back in Alaska, a member of Guevara’s group would either collect the smuggled drugs from the couriers, after they’d gone through airport screening, or they would tell the couriers where to distribute the drugs, often to street-level dealers.

Those purchasing the drugs would pay Guevara with prepaid debit cards or money wired to accounts in Mexico. They would also ship cash back to Mexico.

Along with unsealing the indictment against Guevara, prosecutors in Alaska revealed the names of almost two dozen others they say were involved in the drug dealing operation, all of whom have pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute.

Federal prosecutors in Alaska said authorities in Mexico arrested and deported Guevara to the U.S. on Friday. He is set to be detained in Arizona until his transfer to Alaska.

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Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media. cgrove [at] alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8446 | About Casey

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