Second Canadian suspected of working with drug lord El Chapo

Jan 31, 2019

A man known as “Cat” or “Catboy” is the second Canadian suspected of working with the well-known Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is currently on trial in Brooklyn.

Stephen Tello, 39, is currently serving an 8-month sentence in Canada. Tello is a former real estate agent who resided in Montreal, Toronto and Kitchener, and was arrested following Operation Harrington carried out by the Nova Scotia RCMP.

Tello is the second Canadian firmly tied to Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, after the arrest of Canadian Mykhaylo Koretskyy, 43, who was detained in Curacao in January 2018. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most active drug cartels involved in smuggling illicit drugs into the United States, and trafficking them throughout the United States and to Canada. The cartel, which was previously headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, continues to traffic significant amounts of cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin into Canada. After the arrest of its leader, the cartel is now headed by Ismael Zambada “El Mayo” Garcia and Guzman’s sons, Alfredo Guzman Salazar and Ivan Archivaldo Salazar.

Notably, since Tello’s arrest and the progression of his criminal case, a significant number of associated individuals have since been murdered, including the man who had introduced Tello to undercover RCMP officers and his financier.

Tello has been charged by the U.S. with conspiring with “others known and unknown … to violate the narcotics laws of the United States,” during the period of October 2008 to January 2014. The indictment was first unsealed in July 2015, but was not publicly revealed during his Canadian trial, despite suspicion of Sinaloa ties on behalf of RCMP. According to the indictment, Tello distributed “five kilograms and more” of cocaine, “intending and knowing that such substance would be unlawfully imported into the United States.”

Tello, Koretskyy, Guzman and well-known Colombian gangster Hildebrando Alexander Cifuentes-Villa, or “Alex,” have been indicted together by the Southern District of New York. Moreover, Koretskyy is currently battling against extradition to the U.S. from Curacao.

Following Operation Herrington, a two-year drug probe, which was launched in 2013 and led to 14 arrests, RCMP has expressed concerns regarding safety of the officers involved in the operation. During a preliminary court hearing, an unknown man was seen attempting to obtain a photograph of an undercover RCMP officer who spearheaded the case. Moreover, a number of suspects linked to the case were associated with dangerous international groups.