CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal agents say he’s flooding the streets of Chicago with drugs. Nemesio Oseguera-Cervantes, known as “El Mencho,” is a Mexican drug lord with a $10 million bounty on his head, as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted fugitive.
“He’s the number one priority for DEA, and frankly for federal law enforcement in the United States,” said Matthew Donahue, the DEA’s top agent in Mexico.
Almost 800 people died from drug overdoses in Chicago last year, and authorities say around 90% of the illegal drugs coming into Chicago are from Mexico.
By flooding the U.S. with drugs, agents say El Mencho makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and is responsible for a third of the drugs flooding the streets in the U.S.
“He’s the one that’s responsible for sending the poison that’s actually killing innocent women and kids. So what happens when someone’s child dies? Good chance it probably came from this organization,” Donahue said.
Donahue has helped uncover dozens of El Mencho drug labs in the jungle in Mexico.
The DEA says he protects his empire with violence.
Cartel violence has led to thousands of murders in recent years. According to statistics from the Mexican government, there are approximately 94 homicides per day.
“He’s got an enormous amount of weapons; RPGs, .50- caliber weapons that are attached to the back of trucks. He basically has his own SWAT teamsi,” Donahue said.
In 2015, when the Mexican army set out to arrest him, his men shot down a military helicopter, killing six soldiers.
This summer, his cartel was suspected of carrying out public executions in a fight with rival cartels.
Back in Chicago, the Mexican drugs seized are so toxic, they can’t be handled without protective gear. At the lab, packs of cocaine are stamped with trafficker brands. More than a third can be traced back to El Mencho’s cartel.
The DEA says part of the challenge in capturing El Mencho is that he has entire police departments in Mexico on his payroll.