ARIZONA NEWS

Alleged members of violent cartel indicted in Arizona on human smuggling, drug charges

Dec 18, 2023, 8:00 PM

Photos show the Malas Mañas transnational criminal organization logo - a sun-shaped emblem with a ...

Photos supplied by the U.S. Treasury Department show the Malas Mañas transnational criminal organization logo and slogan on merchandise. SQLD stands for "solo que lo dudes," which means "only that you doubt it." (U.S. Department of Treasury Photo)

(U.S. Department of Treasury Photo)

PHOENIX – Multiple alleged members of a violent cartel have been indicted on human smuggling and drug trafficking charges in Arizona, according to federal authorities.

Jorge Damian Roman-Figueroa, Luis Eduardo Roman-Flores, Manuel Jose Bernal, Joel Salazar-Ballesteros and Jesus Armando Gonzalez-Villela, all Mexican citizens, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Tucson on Nov. 29, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced on Friday.

Roman-Figueroa (aka Soldado), Roman-Flores, Bernal (aka Peque) and Salazar-Ballesteros (aka Catorce) are alleged members of Malas Mañas, a transnational criminal organization prosecutors say operates with the permission of the Sinaloa cartel in the Santa Cruz and Mascarenas areas of Sonora, Mexico.

“These actions are the latest in a long line of the Justice Department’s efforts to dismantle, piece-by-piece, violent cartels like Malas Mañas and Sinaloa,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release. “We will continue to target and prosecute the leaders and associates of the criminal groups responsible for poisoning the American people with fentanyl and endangering vulnerable migrants for profit.”

What crimes are alleged Mexican cartel members accused of committing?

Roman-Figueroa, Roman-Flores, Bernal and Salazar-Ballesteros allegedly conspired to illegally transport migrants north of the U.S.-Mexico border between December 2020 and November 2021, according to the indictment.

Roman-Figueroa, Bernal, Salazar-Ballesteros and Gonzalez-Villela allegedly were part of a drug ring involving fentanyl, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine from 2019 until 2023.

Roman-Figueroa, Roman-Flores and Salazar-Ballesteros also were accused of laundering the profits from the drug and human smuggling enterprises.

In addition, Bernal allegedly brandished a firearm while trafficking methamphetamine on Feb. 3, 2021.

“The facts alleged here illustrate the breadth and diversity of the harmful actions by transnational criminal organizations,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino said in the release. “This case isn’t about just guns, or drugs or aliens. In our continuing efforts to safeguard and bolster border communities, we look forward to establishing the interconnectedness of these three related crimes.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Split panel image. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, sponsor of a proposal to repeal Arizon...

Associated Press

Democrats in Arizona Legislature making another push to repeal near-total abortion ban

For a third straight week, Democrats at the Arizona Legislature are trying to repeal the state's near-total ban on abortions.

50 minutes ago

Images show brush fire in Whetstone area in southeastern Arizona. (City of Tombstone Fire Departmen...

SuElen Rivera

Elderly man dies after accidently starting brush fire in southeastern Arizona

An elderly man died on Tuesday from burn injuries he sustained after he and his son accidently started a brush fire in southeastern Arizona.

2 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

KTAR.com

New Maricopa County animal shelter to open soon in Mesa

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control will open the doors to its new East Valley shelter on May 2, officials said.

4 hours ago

New technology will help Banner Health detect Valley fever earlier...

Serena O'Sullivan

Banner Health using new technology to detect Valley fever earlier

In order to detect Valley fever earlier, Banner Health Banner Urgent Care facilities now have a disease dashboard and a new test process.

4 hours ago

Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck talks to Mike Broomhead about her path to leading the Arizona National ...

Mike Broomhead

Amazing Arizonans: Kerry Muehlenbeck discusses her path to leading Arizona National Guard

On this episode of Amazing Arizonans, Mike Broomhead learns more about Maj. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck and her path to leadership.

4 hours ago

Pitbull performs during a stop of The Trilogy Tour at T-Mobile Arena on November 24, 2023 in Las Ve...

Damon Allred

Global stars Pitbull, T-Pain to bring ‘Party After Dark’ tour to Phoenix

Pop star Pitbull is bringing special guest T-Pain to Phoenix as part of the "Party After Dark" tour this fall.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Alleged members of violent cartel indicted in Arizona on human smuggling, drug charges