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Brother of Sinaloa drug cartel leader arrested at Mexico-Arizona border

The brother of a leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel was indicted on drug smuggling charges Friday, a day after he was arrested at the border in Nogales, Ariz., the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego said.

A grand jury indictment filed in San Diego federal court charges Alvaro Lopez Nuñez, 38, and five close associates with doling out drugs to smugglers and smuggling the narcotics into the U.S. themselves from May 2005 to August 2016.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Lopez Nuñez at a port of entry in Nogales on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He was indicted in a federal court in Tucson on Friday and is expected to be extradited to San Diego to face the charges.

His arrest comes on the heels of the July 27 arrest of his nephew, Damaso Lopez Serrano, also known as “Mini Lic” and said to be the godson of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Lopez Serrano, 29, turned himself in to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the border in Calexico and faces the same drug smuggling charges as his uncle.

An associate, Nahum Abraham Sicairos Montalvo, 29, is also charged in the federal indictment filed in August of last year. He was arrested by Mexican authorities on July 31, according to Mexican news reports.

Three other defendants are considered fugitives, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In May, Lopez Nuñez’s brother, Damaso Lopez Nuñez, was arrested by Mexican authorities at a high-rise in Mexico City.

Damaso Lopez Nuñez and his son, Damaso Lopez Serrano, both face drug smuggling charges in a separate case out of Virginia.

The father, known as “El Licenciado,” or the Graduate, was reputed to one of Guzman’s top leaders in the Sinaloa cartel. He is expected to be extradited the U.S. to face the charges in Virginia.

david.hernandez@sduniontribune.com

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