The world's most wanted drug lord was captured in Mexico Saturday with the help of several agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Long Island office, a senior law enforcement official said.
The local DEA agents have been hunting Joaquín Guzmán, the head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, for more than a decade, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Guzmán was indicted in the federal Eastern District of New York in 2009 on charges of importing tons of cocaine and other drugs into the United States since 1990.
While Mexican marines made the arrest Saturday, they were assisted by intelligence provided by the Long Island DEA agents, who were in Mexico near where Guzmán was captured in Mazatlán, the official said.
U.S. marshals and agents from other DEA offices and the Department of Homeland Security were also in Mexico tracking Guzmán, the source said.
The Long Island federal investigation began as a probe into cartels in Colombia that were producing cocaine and shipping it through Mexico. The focus turned to Guzmán when it became apparent that his organization was buying the drugs from the Colombians and doing the smuggling, reaping vast profits, the source said.
Federal agents in the New York metropolitan area have made a number of Guzmán-related cocaine busts, including the seizure of 500 kilograms in Deer Park in 2000 and 2,000 kilograms in Maspeth, Queens, in 2003, the source said.
In addition to the Eastern District, Guzman has been indicted in Illinois, California, Texas and elsewhere. In almost every federal case, he faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.
While Mexico may decide to put Guzmán on trial, if he's extradited to the United States, Justice Department officials have not decided yet which federal district will prosecute Guzmán first, the source said.
Five of Guzmán's lieutenants were charged along with him in the 2009 Eastern District indictment. Since then, two have been killed in shootouts with Mexican police, one has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing and two remain fugitives.