Top Mexican cartel criminal El Nini, once among America’s most wanted, extradited to the US

A top Mexican cartel member known as ‘El Nini,’ who was one of America’s most-wanted criminals for his alleged role in the fentanyl trade, has been extradited to the United States.

In a speech celebrating US-Mexico cooperation on the case, US President Joe Biden on Saturday hailed the extradition of El Nini – also known as Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas – as “a good day for justice.”

“El Nini played a prominent role in the notorious Sinaloa cartel, one of the deadliest drug trafficking enterprises in the world. The United States has charged him for his role in illicit fentanyl trafficking and for murdering, torturing, and kidnapping numerous rivals, witnesses, and others,” Biden said, thanking Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“Our governments will continue to work together to attack the fentanyl and synthetic drug epidemic that is killing so many people in our homelands and globally, and to bring to justice the criminals and organizations producing, smuggling, and selling these lethal poisons in both of our countries,” he added.

According to the US Department of Justice, Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas “was one of the Sinaloa cartel’s lead sicarios, or assassins” and was involved in the “production and sale of fentanyl” in the United States.

Biden has previously described El Nini as one of America’s most-wanted criminals. Pérez Salas was charged in the US with cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, and witness retaliation in February 2021.

The US State Department offered a reward of up to $3 million for information leading to his arrest and he was detained in Mexico in November of last year.

According to the State Department, Pérez Salas worked directly with Oscar Noé Medina González, a subordinate of Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, one of the sons of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was sentenced to prison in the US in 2019.

The State Department also said Pérez Salas was responsible for the security apparatus of Los Chapitos, a faction of the Sinaloa cartel.

He is accused of being one of the commanders of the “Ninis” cell, described as a “particularly violent” group of security personnel for Los Chapitos.

“I am grateful to our Mexican government counterparts for their extraordinary efforts in apprehending and extraditing El Nini,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office said in a statement.

“The Justice Department will continue to go after the cartels responsible for flooding our communities with fentanyl and other drugs.”

CNN’s Evan Perez and Zoe Sottile contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at