CBP launches new campaign targeting drug plaza bosses

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched a new multi-agency effort, known as Operation Plaza Strike, targeting drug plaza bosses. The term “plaza” refers to a particular region or city under the control of drug cartels.

Operation Plaza Spike’s first target is Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, aka “Gio.”

Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela courtesy DEA

According to CBP, Gio runs drug trafficking operations for the Sinaloa cartel in the Nogales, Mexico/Nogales, Arizona, region.

“The Nogales plaza under Gio’s control is responsible for 44% of all fentanyl CBP seizes coming into the United States,” Troy A. Miller, acting commissioner of CBP, said at a press conference.

Gio was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2018 on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances intended for importation, conspiracy to import controlled substances, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

“We are also going to target anyone associated with plaza bosses who help facilitate their activities. We know that more than 90% of all narcotics smuggled into the U.S. flow through and are under the control of border plaza leadership,” Miller said.

In addition to the Operation Plaza Strike campaign, CBP also announced that it will expand Operation Apollo into Arizona. As Emily’s Hope previously reported,  Operation Apollo started in California and involves several different government agencies working together to target the precursors used to make fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. 

“I want to be perfectly clear. If you’re responsible for the poisoning of our people, we know who you are,” Miller said.