Mexico Arrests ICE "Most Wanted" Fugitive

Jose Alvarez-Tostado

ICE Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. (ICE) — A man arrested in Mexico January 27 has been positively identified as Jose Alvarez-Tostado, a.k.a. “El Compadre,” one of ICE’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives.

The United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles is expected to file papers with the government of Mexico seeking extradition of the 49-year-old. Mexican authorities arrested Alvarez in Guadalajara late last week on charges in Mexico relating to organized crime and money laundering.

Alvarez, who was designated as a “Foreign Narcotics Kingpin” by President Bush in June 2001, has been one of ICE’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives for seven years. He was indicted in May 1998 in Los Angeles for operating a continuing criminal enterprise; money laundering and conspiracy to launder money; and conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of a controlled substance.

According to the U.S. indictment, Alvarez served as the de facto financial manager of Mexico’s Juarez drug cartel, collecting and laundering millions of dollars from cartel drug sales in cities across the United States. Among other things, the indictment alleges that Alvarez collected more than $40 million from drug sales and transferred the funds to Mexican accounts on behalf of the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the reputed chief of the Juarez drug cartel.

Alvarez was one of 112 individuals indicted in an undercover ICE investigation called “Operation Casablanca.” When Operation Casablanca culminated in May 1998, it was considered the largest drug money laundering investigation in U.S. history. Launched in 1995, the investigation targeted professional money launderers for Colombia’s Cali drug cartel and Mexico’s Juarez drug cartel, as well as numerous Mexican and Venezuelan bankers who helped launder their drug proceeds.

Operation Casablanca ultimately resulted in the seizure of more than $100 million and the arrest of more than 160 individuals, including dozens of Mexican and Venezuelan bankers.