Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, March 18, 2013

Damaso Lopez Nunez file unsealed

Rio Doce (3-17-13)

Miguel Angel Vega

Translated for Borderland Beat by un vato

Translator's note: From the terminology used in the Rio Doce article, I could not tell whether the writer was referring to a sealed indictment or a sealed arrest warrant.  In either case, the result would be the suspect's apprehension, which is what the writer focuses on. --un vato 

The United States government had kept it sealed since 2011; they place him as second in command to Joaquin Guzman Loera, at the same level as Ines Coronel Barreras -- the capo's father in law -- and accuse him of trafficking drugs with a value of $280 million dollars from Peru, Colombia, Panama and Mexico...

Sixteen months after it was sealed and categorized as a "classified file", the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) declassified a complaint against Damaso Lopez Nunez and four of his collaborators, which is why the hunt for one of the principal lieutenants of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman officially started on March 8, (2013).

The declassification (unsealing) of File No. 11-CR-00558, captioned United States of America vs. Damaso Lopez Nunez, took place this past March 7, after Neil H. MacBride, Federal Prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia, filed a joint motion in a federal court in that state requesting the declassification of that document in order to proceed openly against Damaso Lopez.

"Since November 23, 2011, this document was sealed in the interest of the government, but now the circumstances that required that classification are no longer present, and for that reason we are requesting that the document be declassified," reads the motion, to which this journal had access.

The document does not specify the reasons the government of the United States had to keep the arrest warrant issued against Damaso Lopez Nunez sealed; it only states that this was "in the best interests of the country."

Jerry E. Norton, professor with Loyola University in Chicago, explained, however, that when the USDOJ seals files, this is pursuant to a strategy by the authorities to reinforce charges against each and every one of those implicated in the investigation.

"Of course, there may be very specific reasons, but generally, when a file is sealed it means that the prosecutors don't want the accused to know that they are looking for them, until they are located  or they fall into the hands of the justice system. Because, if they knew, they would have a better chance of fleeing," Norton explained to Rio Doce

Spokesmen for the DOJ stated they would not comment on the professor's opinion, nor did they say much about progress made in capturing Lopez Nunez, saying only that the file had been reopened.

The hunt begins

It happened with Benjamin Arellano Felix, with Arturo Beltran Leyva, with Vicente Zambada Niebla and, more recently, with Ovidio Limon. Dead or in prison, once the United States initiates the hunt for a drug trafficker, the pincers close.

Except for the top leaders of the narcos, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, Ismael El Mayo Zambada and Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, El Azul, once they were tagged by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and sought by a federal court in that country, few have managed to escape.

The arrest warrant issued against Damaso Lopez, who is also known as El Licenciado, was originally requested on November 23, 2011, on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to introduce hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States.

Despite this, immediately after filing the charges, the DEA promptly requested the judge to seal the file because this was "in the best interests of the United States." The petition was approved and the document was sealed.

So, nobody was aware that El Licenciado was also sought by the United States.

Notwithstanding, the Government of Mexico, who also was not aware of the arrest warrant, continued to look for him after the Office of Attorney General (PGR; Procuraduria General de la Republica) issued an order for his apprehension on February 2, 2011, on "organized crime" charges.  

With the law following closely, Damaso requested a protective order (amparo) from a federal judge in Culiacan (Sinaloa). The amparo  was granted on November 22, 2012, a year after the United States sealed the arrest warrant. The reasons why the protective order was issued are not known, since Damaso Lopez was at the time considered by the PGR to be one of the key members in the criminal organization led by Chapo Guzman, and the protective order document only stated that "Justice protects and shelters Damaso Lopez Nunez against the actions and authorities specified in the body of this order." 

It was not even three months after that protective order issued, and while Damaso's file was still sealed, that the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) tagged Nunez for his continuing illegal activities, prohibiting U.S. residents from performing any transactions with him or with businesses owned by him.

In a new organizational chart disseminated by the U.S. DOJ, Damaso Lopez Nunez appears as second in command with Joaquin Guzman, at the same level as Ines Coronel Barreras, the father of Emma Coronel, one of the wives of the narco boss.

The charges

According to Damaso's file, which includes arrest warrants for Felipe Zurita Cruz, Jaime Alberto Lopez Gutierrez, Raul Rosales Saenz, and a fifth person identified only as El Gordo, it alleges that El Licenciado was importing cocaine into the U.S. from Peru, Colombia, Panama and Mexico since 2007.

According to the document, the defendants, led by Damaso, introduced cocaine worth at least $280 million dollars while they were all members of an organization led by Joaquin Guzman Loera.

The document is signed by MacBride and  Daniel J. Grooms, with USDOJ, and by Arthur G. Wyatt and Darrin L. McCullough, representing the DEA.

The record also explains that, upon being brought before a judge, the prosecutors will request the  forfeiture of properties, assets and money to compensate for the $280 million dollars that (the defendants) obtained.

"It is clear that Lopez Nunez has profited with money from the United States, which is why we are going after him with all we have, and going after his assets and after the organization he is part of, wherever he is," advised Adam J. Szubin, director of OFAC.

In January, 2011, one of the accused, Felipe Zurita Cruz, was detained by the Mexican Navy. The Mexican Navy stated that he was being tracked by marines pursuant to the order issued by the  District Judge of Federal Criminal Procedures under Criminal Cause Number 206/2010-IV.

According to the Semar (Secretariat of the Navy), Zurita is directly involved in the cocaine seizures carried out by the Mexican Navy aboard the ships "Caracol III" and "Juan Alejandro" in September, 2008, and "Polar 1" in February, 2009.

As happens in these situations, if El Licenciado or the rest of the suspects who are part of the case are arrested in Mexico or anywhere else in the world, their extradition will be promptly carried out, and, once they are in a U.S. court, they face maximum penalties of up to life in prison.

Which is why Zurita may be extradited at any moment.

Brief profile of Damaso Lopez

They called him Licenciado because he studied law in the University of the State of Sinaloa (UAS), and because he practiced law for some time.

Born February 22, 1966, in Eldorado, Culiacan township, Lopez Nunez was a Public Ministry agent in Sinaloa in the 1990's.

Towards the end of 1999, he began to work as chief of security in the Puente Grande prison.  

According to the governments of Mexico and the U.S., a few months after he started there, he was promoted to deputy director of surveillance and custody in the prison as part of a well defined plan to help Joaquin Guzman escape from Puente Grande.

Lopez Nunez resigned two months before the escape, although by that time everything was ready for Guzman Loera's escape.

Once the escape took place, El Licenciado began to work in Chapo Guzman's organization, but not in the top ranks. It was after the arrest of El Chapo Lomas, in prison since 2008, that he became one of the capo's principal men.

He has a brother, Adolfo Lopez Nunez, identified in military intelligence reports as having ties to organized crime.

According to military intelligence reports, Adolfo worked as operations supervisor with the State Ministerial Police in El Salado township, Culiacan Municipality, and resigned May 1, 1996.

Their father, Damaso Lopez Garcia, was elected councilman in Eldorado in 2007.

In July, 2008, the Mexican Army searched and secured a 10.6 acre property in Portaceli that the government attributed to Damaso Lopez Nunez, which they learned of during a search of a house in Culiacan some days prior to that where they seized more than $5 million dollars.

In 2009, an investigation was opened, captioned UEIORPIFAM/AP/002//2009, where they document the seizure of two properties, one measuring 52 acres in Navito, Culiacan Municipality, and another measuring 53 acres in El Capullito, Rancho de Zopilotito, Eldorado, Culiacan Municipality, in addition to several vehicles.


  1. Arriba el equipo CDS y Damaso fuerzas especiales.

  2. Arriba El Dorado, Sinaloa!

  3. On facebook search the page "El Cartel" they have a bunch of crazy pics

  4. The usa is always giving fame to the narcos in mexico here comes 100 more corridos for this guy he must of.done something bad to dea for them to put him out their because he was already in their radar and didnt go after him that bad and theres other more higher rank than this guy in cds that the dea knows about but wont go after them like one that controls chihuahua for him for many years and others in michoacan jalisco sonora who the dea knows about but doesnt gi after them and those other guys are smart they are not making corridos they are just about their busness i laugh at the dea they are backstabbers.

    1. Nobody said the DEA was fair but you cant play fair with gotta be as dirty as they are and not all ppl in the u.s.a glorify them.they are discusting pieces of shit.but if i was a mexican citizen i would band together arm yourselves and rise up.anythings gotta be better than the way they are living now in constant fear

  5. El Lic is laughing at this to this song

    Yesterday it was Vicentillo, today its Damaso, tomorrow its El Mini Lic.

  6. Looks like " El Licenciado " va subiando como la espuma. Corridos left and right, pics of his son in Lambos y jalando la banda. Mini lic here, mini lic there. Segun es el ahjado consentido de chaps. If he is Chaps right hand man, then he is very influential. Que opinan los de Sinaloa?

  7. one part of this article doesn't make sense to me. if the complaint is sealed, but those who do business with someone who's charges are sealed, doesn't that make a good defense... that "I didn't know he was a bad guy."? does this mean a car dealer who sells a truck to the guy now becomes an associate? this seems like stupid shit. it sounds more like some sort of entrapment. I am not defending the guy or his associates, just questioning the legal concept that someone doing business with him becomes a criminal. taco vendors, grocery stores, shoe shine guys... any one who receives a peso/dollar from him becomes part of a criminal enterprise?

  8. @10:45: The article mentions that the U.S. Treasury Department (OFAC) tagged him under the RICO statute while the indictment/charges were still sealed. U.S. law does not require a criminal conviction before the government seize property of an ongoing criminal enterprise.

  9. Como disen loss tucanes de Tijuana no ay nada k discutir el Chapo Sigue rifando cds al 100%

  10. This guy went to university just tells what kind of people are handdling chapo's business i wonder if his son mini lic also went to school

  11. Chapo and el licenciado are going to haveto pay out some more green If they want Damaso Lopez to avoid capture. If history is any indicator of what will happen to licenciado with him receiving an indictment on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering by USDOJ, is absolutely nothing! Mind you they also have el azul, MZ, and Chapo under indictment and they haven't been caught either. It seems to me If you've done Chapo a great favor, the reward is a position in the upper echelons of CDS. El Licenciado giving chapo his freedom; Inés Coronel giving Chapo his daughter.

    Somebody mentioned how in Vietnam the viet cong developed a network of tunnels, I bet Sinaloa and other States of the Sierra Madre are littered with tunnels and underground shelters. If they can build tunnels along U.S.-México border they can build underground shelters in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

    1. What? Do we go back to napalm or however u spell that in the tunnels and overhead like we did in nam?the north vietnamese fought at night in very small groups and barefoot.thats what made the u.s change some of their military tactics.i personally dont think the CIA or the DEA want chapo.if the CIA wanted him they could get him cause the CIA are some very dirty motherfuckers probably dirtier than the cartels themselves

  12. So, is this the same "licenciado' who released that letter about who's going to betray who, M1 and Macho Prieto and all those dudes. That one letter that was full of mistakes and had the spelling of 1 year old!! Well if that's how he spells, no wonder he went from practicing law, to beign a drug dealer!! He should be prosecuted just for his grammar skills alone!!!

    Echo 2

    1. Dont believe everything you read in blogs dumbass

  13. Ya esta muerto ese compa

  14. i guess they were saving this guy for el pri and second this guy is chapos down fall its just a matter of time thats why since 2011 cds has taken major hits

  15. Saben Kien es peña nieto? Es el chapito

  16. Kien creen k es peña nieto.. Es el guzmán Loera

    1. No mames..thats what they used to say about calderon.pinche gente pendeja

  17. @ 2:59...thats a good question. lol it probably isnt though based on the spelling of the letter like you say. lol

  18. dea cant capture el mini lic!se les paso por abajo de las narices a los gabachos..he is not old as hell but damaso o el mini lic,el gordo o mayito,el vago o cholo.abelardo n a couple more guys from cds n there allies always hangout in areas around la,riverside county,ca n vegas.they dress fancy at clubs well protected by people.i met ml at a private party,cnt say were or wen but he is calm,respectful,and violent if he is dea can keep dreaming about capturing him,jus go for los zetas,cuz u capture any cds member,there will be bloodshed.

    atte. F.E.D

    Fuerzas Especiales Damaso

    1. Their not looking for Mini Lic their looking for his Father! 2 different persons..

  19. treachery inside cds...backstabbers and double dealers
    ATTE.ThinkTank 28.7

    it wasn't the dad that wrote the letter it was Mini Lic.

  20. atte. F.E.D
    Brr,if you for real,you welcome on here.For real,we need mofos who who know whats up,and not cheerleaders and loony tunes who go on one if you rip there favorite capo,its all good but you get pissed off with all that shit,we need dudes who know the score about certain things,yep,you cant say to much,but you can point things out,anyway whatever stay down dude

  21. "it wasn't the dad that wrote the letter it was Mini Lic?"
    Mini Lic trying to take out the bosses?He got his own people and his own place in it

  22. Mini lic is ahijado consentido del chapo,mayito gordo,el vago o cholo,vago brother abelardo,chino antrax,cheyo,hangout in la,riverside,vegas.I met abelardo at a night club not to long ago...he is calm,respectful,honest.he invited me n my compas to a private party and he welcomed us..inntroduced hot chicks n he told me straight up I look like an honest,respectful,sincere guy who if I'm betrayed I'm violent...n I met his brother el cholo at a wedding.he is the same as abelardo but very violent if he is betrayed...dea and cia want a piece of the action of governments r top buyers of drugs.they say they want chapo.but they say dat to make us think omg....caro quintero they will never find can't charge him with the murder of camarena cuz he already served his sentence.

    Atte. El chepo

  23. USDOJ over here issueing warrants...y estos compas bien agusto jalando la banda!!!! Jaja!! No le llegan mi a los talones!!!!!


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