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Biden praises Mexican armed forces for capture and extradition of top Sinaloa Cartel hitman 'El Nini'

Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, also known as 'El Nini', “one of the main hitmen of the Sinaloa Cartel,” was extradited to the U.S. for and criminal prosecution in the federal justice system

Extraditan a sicario mexicano
Soldados del ejército mexicano | EFE

May 26, 2024 6:04pm

Updated: May 27, 2024 11:13am

The Justice Department reported on Saturday that Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, known commonly on the street as 'El Nini' and identified as “one of the main hitmen of the Sinaloa Cartel,” was extradited to the U.S. for criminal prosecution.

Mexican authorities consider him the top Sinaloa Cartel hitman and the head of security for the Los Chapitos gang.

The Sinaloa Cartel, according to the United States, is the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world,” responsible, in large part, for the production of fentanyl for distribution in the U.S. The drug is considered 50 times more powerful than heroin and is now ranked as “the leading” cause of death for Americans between 18 and 49 years old.

President Biden commended the extradition process and cooperation between Mexican and U.S. authorities, saying in a statement that “this is a good day for justice.” He also thanked the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his willingness to extradite Pérez Salas to the U.S. for prosecution, following the hitman’s November 2023 arrest.

“Our governments will continue to work together to attack the fentanyl and synthetic drug epidemic that is killing so many people in our countries and around the world,” Biden said. The president’s comments follow praise for Mexico’s military in November when he thanked López Obrador and “the brave men and women of Mexican security forces … for effectively capturing El Nini.” 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland also thanked the Mexican Government for its “extraordinary efforts” in the capture, saying that El Nini joins “a growing list of extradited cartel leaders” now paying the price for their responsibility in “flooding our communities with fentanyl and other drugs.”

“This morning, Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, also known as ‘El Nini,’ was extradited to the United States. We allege El Nini was one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s lead sicarios, or assassins, and was responsible for the murder, torture, and kidnapping of rivals and witnesses who threatened the cartel’s criminal drug trafficking enterprise,” he said in a statement released by the press office of the Justice Dept.

“We also allege El Nini was a part of the Sinaloa Cartel’s production and sale of fentanyl, including in the United States. I am grateful to our Mexican government counterparts for their extraordinary efforts in apprehending and extraditing El Nini. With this enforcement action, El Nini joins the growing list of cartel leaders and associates indicted in, and extradited to, the United States. The Justice Department will continue to go after the cartels responsible for flooding our communities with fentanyl and other drugs,” he said. 

Once considered of the most wanted criminals in the United States, Pérez Salas had a 3 million dollar bounty on his head. He is currently provisionally being detained in the Altiplano Penitentiary, a maximum security prison in the State of Mexico.

The famed cartel hitman has been detained there since his capture last November in Culiacán as part of an operation by the Mexican Armed Forces, who have accused him of ordering attacks on the military.

According to the armed forces, Pérez Salas orchestrated a series of attacks against the Army by targeting the Culiacán military housing unit, a move which led to the execution of eight people in Tamazula, Durango last October.

The Sinaloa Cartel member is now being sent to New York to face federal charges of organized crime, fentanyl trafficking, firearms possession and money laundering, but also has a pending indictment in the District of Columbia for production and distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine as well as charges of possession of firearms and obstruction of justice.

In September, Ovidio Guzmán López, son of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, known as ‘El Ratón’ was extradited to the United States, accused of leading a criminal organization, money laundering and trafficking all types of drugs, including fentanyl.

There he pleaded not guilty to the five charges against him and is currently serving a lengthy sentence in an Illinois based federal detention center.

ADN America contributed to this report.