McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The alleged leader of a Mexican drug cartel who was arrested earlier this week and turned over to U.S. authorities faces charges that could land him in prison for life.

Juan Gerardo Treviño Chavez, also known as “El Huevo” or “The Egg,” was turned over to U.S. officials in San Diego on Tuesday on federal charges filed in an indictment issued in San Antonio.

According to court documents, he is charged with being the leader of the Cartel Del Noreste, or Northeast drug cartel, an offshoot of the former Los Zetas drug cartel.

His arrest catapulted the northern Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo into violence overnight Sunday with residents in the South Texas town of Laredo, across the Rio Grande, reporting they heard gunshots, grenades and other weapons explode, as well as smoke coming from south of the border.

Border officials have told Border Report that opposing cartels began warring one another vying for position to take leadership of the region and its lucrative drug and human trafficking trade.

The northern Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, just south of Laredo, Texas, erupted in violence overnight Sunday, March 13, 2022, after the Mexican military arrested a man they say is the leader of a powerful drug cartel. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

According to the indictment, Treviño, 39, is a resident of Laredo, Texas. He is charged with 11 counts including one count each of the following:

  • Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
  • Conspiracy to import marijuana.
  • Unlawful distribution of controlled substances.
  • Conspiracy to employ a person under 18 in drug operations.
  • Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.
  • Conspiracy to import cocaine.
  • Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
  • Conspiracy to import methamphetamine.
  • Conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.
  • Possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
  • Money laundering.

Treviño is the nephew of Miguel Treviño Morales, who was leader of the group prior to this 2013 arrest. In 2015, his uncle Omar Treviño Morales was arrested and officials said Treviño continued to climb the ranks until he became leader of a hit squad known as “The Troop from Hell.”

If convicted, Treviño faces up to life in prison on each of the conspiracy to possess marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine charges; up to life in prison on each of the conspiracy to import cocaine and methamphetamine charges; up to life in prison on the unlawful distribution of controlled substance charge as well as the conspiracy to employ a person under 18 in drug operations charge; up to 10 years in prison on the conspiracy to import marijuana charge; and up to 20 years in prison on each of the firearm charges and the money laundering charge, according to a statement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Department of Homeland Security said that ICE special agents from Laredo and San Antonio are collaborating with U.S. Drug and Enforcement Agency Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshal Service, the FBI and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs on this case.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at