U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss for the District of Delaware, announced today that Luis Raul Castro Valenzuela, aka “Chacho,” was charged with holding a U.S. Citizen, listed in the indictment by his/her initials (hereinafter “the victim”), with kidnapping and with hostage taking.
The three-count indictment also alleged that Castro Valenzuela conspired to distribute heroin and fentanyl between March 2017 and November 11, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Weiss said, “The pursuit of justice takes many forms. Few cases illustrate this principle more clearly than this one-where investigators followed a drug operation in Bear, Delaware to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and then to Sinaloa, Mexico, ultimately leading to the rescue of a U.S. Citizen held hostage by an alleged member of the Sinaloa Cartel. The collaboration between local, state, federal, and Mexican officials in this case is unprecedented and demonstrates what can be accomplished when agencies selflessly work towards a single objective. Finally, I want to express our deep appreciation to the Mexican prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and military personnel for their critical assistance.”
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“The rescue of this victim is the culmination of an international and multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking and smuggling investigation impacting the people of Delaware and surrounding areas,” stated Brian L. Jones, Resident Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “We are all relieved that this victim has been rescued safely but it also drives home the dangers of narcotics trafficking and the violent behavior of the Mexican drug cartels. Homeland Security Investigations wants to thank our law enforcement partners, domestically and in Mexico, for their dedication to combatting drug trafficking and we will use every resource available to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States.”
Damon Wood, the Postal Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division stated, “This case started with investigators from several different agencies independently pursuing different leads. When they came together, they found themselves investigating a conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics that stretched from the Philadelphia suburbs, down through Delaware, and into Mexico. I want to commend the hard work of our law enforcement partners from over a dozen agencies who helped develop the charges announced today, not the least of which includes the Mexican authorities, who, as a result of information developed here, rescued a U.S. citizen held against their will in Mexico. Keeping the employees and customers of the Postal Service safe and the mail free from criminal misuse are the primary missions of the Postal Inspection Service. As an agency, we have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive steps to interrupt and investigate those who use the mail to distribute illegal narcotics and launder their proceeds.”
“Today a dangerous criminal is off the streets thanks to a large-scale coordinated effort between our partners in the U.S. and in Mexico,” said Jennifer C. Boone, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “In this law enforcement collaboration, not only was a victim being held hostage rescued but more than a million dollars’ worth of illegal drugs was seized. The citizens of Delaware have the FBI’s commitment that we will continue to aggressively investigate criminal organizations that target our communities with their drug-related violent activity and ensure that they are held accountable.”
“While IRS-Criminal Investigation is known for tax investigations, the assistance we provided in this investigation is a reminder that whenever there is a need to follow the money, we are often called upon,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso. “We are highly skilled at financially disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations. We are proud to have assisted in this investigation; joining forces with our law enforcement partners to hold these individuals accountable.”
“Today’s indictment is a prime example of cooperation among international, federal, state, and local authorities in securing justice for victims,” said Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “I am thankful for their tireless work, which not only removed a victim from harm’s way, but disrupted a drug trade that has bred so much violence in our communities.”
“Drug dealing is a dangerous and often violent enterprise, and thanks to the hard work and successful collaboration of these agencies, a victim’s life was spared,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “My office will continue to work with local, state, federal, and international authorities to keep Pennsylvanians safe from those who profit from drug trafficking.”
Although the Indictment was obtained in November 2020, it was sealed until the victim was rescued and the defendant was arrested. As reported by Mexican authorities, in February 2021, Mexican law enforcement officers executed multiple warrants in Culiacan, Mexico. The victim was safely recovered and is in good health. Castro Valenzuela was arrested as part of the rescue operation; Mexican authorities have lodged their own charges and allege that he is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The United States is pursuing the extradition of Castro Valenzuela to the District of Delaware so that he may be tried in federal court.
Four individuals were also charged in the District of Delaware with a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl: Jamar Jackson, aka “Jay”, 37, of Chester, Pennsylvania and Bear, Delaware; Denise Brown, aka “China”, 34, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Harley Douglas, 37, of Bear, Delaware; and Nicole Jackson, 35, of Dover, Delaware. Douglas was also charged with two firearms offenses.
In total, the investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 7.5 kilograms of heroin and/or fentanyl, 14.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 guns, and $180,000. The street value of these drugs easily exceeds $1 million.
The primary investigating agencies in this case are HSI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the FBI. Instrumental assistance was also provided by the IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Delaware State Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Newport Police Department, the Elsmere Police Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and the Chester Police Department.
The investigation was supported by the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Area program (HIDTA), and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Other prosecutors’ offices who assisted in the investigation include the Delaware Department of Justice, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, as well as other U.S. Attorney’s Offices. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance including support and coordination between Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) of Mexico and U.S. law enforcement. Subprocuraduria Especializada en Investigaciones de Delincuencia Organizada (SEIDO) also provided substantial assistance on this case and was instrumental in locating the victim and arresting Castro Valenzuela.