Mara Salvatrucha’s boss Nelson Alexander Flores, AKA Mula, sentenced to 17 years in California court

U.S. court sentences MS13 leader, Flores, for drug trafficking; Joint Task Force Vulcan instrumental in conviction.

In a significant blow to the Mara Salvatrucha’s (MS13) operations, Nelson Alexander Flores, also known as “Mula,” has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. He was pivotal in MS13’s foray into drug trafficking in the United States.

During the trial proceedings in the Southern District Court of California, prosecutors laid out a compelling case against Flores. They unveiled evidence of the extensive criminal activities he orchestrated as a leader not only of the Salvadoran gang but also of the notorious Mexican Mafia, frequently referred to as La Eme.

"Mula was identified as one of the main leaders of the MS13 in drug trafficking to the U.S. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez).
“Mula was identified as one of the main leaders of the MS13 in drug trafficking to the U.S. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez).

Between 2018 and May 2020, reports from the U.S. Department of Justice disclosed that Flores managed the transshipment of an astounding 45 kilos of methamphetamine and cocaine every month. These illicit drugs were trafficked “on behalf of violent international street and prison gangs,” revealed the documents.

Andrew R. Haden, the prosecutor on the case, pinpointed Flores as the principal figure behind the drug importation into San Diego County, California, via its southern neighbor, Mexico. Once in San Diego, these narcotics found their way to various communities across the nation.

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The Force Behind the Conviction

Flores’ conviction did not come easily. It was the culmination of the rigorous investigative efforts of the Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV). This initiative was established in August 2019, during Donald Trump’s presidency, with the primary mission of decimating the MS13 gang.

John Durham, the director of JTFV, emphasized Flores’ central role in MS13’s international drug operations, stating that he coordinated “the importation and distribution of narcotics throughout the United States.” Durham further added that Flores’ conviction marks a notable disruption to these illicit activities.

A Glimpse into “Mula”

The man behind the alias “Mula” is 52-year-old Nelson Alexander Flores. He is also recognized by various other monikers including “El 40”, “Cuarenta”, “Juan”, and “Juanita”. Convicted under case number 22cr908, the charges that led to his downfall are summed up as “international drug conspiracy”. Such offenses in the U.S. can result in a life sentence, accompanied by a hefty fine that can reach up to $10 million.