Toronto resident Mykhaylo Koretskyy, 44, is currently fighting against extradition from Curacao to the U.S.
This Feb. 22, 2014 file photo shows Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, being escorted to a helicopter in Mexico City following his capture in the beach resort town of Mazatlan
A Canadian truck company owner accused of smuggling drugs for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman charged the Mexican kingpin and his cronies US$155,000 to move two cocaine loads from the U.S. into Canada, court documents allege.
Toronto resident Mykhalo Koretskyy , 44, is currently fighting extradition from Curacao to the U.S., where he has been indicted by the Southern District of New York over suspected ties to El Chapo.
Known as “Russian Mike” or “Cobra,” Koretskyy has been held in Curacao since arriving there from Toronto on an Air Canada flight on Jan. 3, 2018. In his January 2014 indictment, which was only unsealed days after his arrest, he is accused of trafficking with the Sinaloa Cartel leader who was convicted in Brooklyn last month of running a murderous drugs empire.
The dual Canadian-Ukrainian citizen is charged along with El Chapo and Hildebrando Alexander Cifuentes-Villa or “Alex,” a member of Colombia’s Cifuentes-Villa crime family, which partnered with Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel for years.
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- Man known as ‘Catboy’ is second Canadian suspected of working with drug lord El Chapo
Also indicted is Stephen Tello, a one-time Toronto real estate agent serving 15 years for drugs offences in Canada.
The indictments contain few specifics on how the four may have colluded, beyond saying that from October 2008 to January 2014, they distributed “five kilograms or more” of cocaine, for import to the U.S.
But on Tuesday, a top Netherlands official provided a list of U.S. allegations against Koretskyy before recommending that his appeal against extradition be dismissed. Koretskyy had appealed to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands because Curacao is a Dutch territory.
The U.S. allegations include that secretly taped conversations incriminate Koretskyy and his associates; that a trucking company he set up was “likely” designed just to move drugs; that he held meetings with cartel members, including some in Mexico, at which bags full of cash were passed between traffickers; and that he moved drugs by road from Buffalo to L.A. and then into Canada.
At El Chapo’s trial, the Mexican’s partnership with the Cifuentes-Villas was laid bare when Alex Cifuentes-Villa and his brother, Jorge Milton, joined various other cooperating witnesses and testified against their old partner. Alex had been captured in Mexico in late 2013, with Jorge Milton captured in Venezuela a year earlier.
Alex had lived for long periods with El Chapo in the Mexican mountains, starting in 2007. He told how, with El Chapo and Jorge Milton, he sourced huge loads of cocaine in Colombia and Ecuador, shipping them north. Tello was Alex’s main Canadian connection, he said, acting as the group’s distributor in Canada once the drugs crossed the U.S. border. The group also dealt with Antonio Pietrantonio of the Montreal Mafia, or “Tony Suzuki,” he said.
Alex Cifuentes-Villa, middle, pictured with “El Chapo” Guzman and an unidentified woman in the mountains of Mexico.
The ruling refers to the Cifuentes-Villa organization but keeps individual suspects anonymous, because suspects in criminal cases are not named in the Netherlands. Beyond Koretskyy, the National Post has not been able to confirm the identities of the others referred to, and officials at the Southern District of New York did not respond to requests for the original affidavit.
However, Koretskyy is only being sought for extradition by the Southern District of New York, and patterns in the affidavit indicate that some or all of his New York co-indicted are referred to within the summary provided. Separate court documents and communiqués obtained by the National Post indicate the same.