ST. LOUIS – A new federal case details an alleged pipeline of illegal drugs (fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine) from Mexico to St. Louis.

The case also offers a glimpse of the impact the southern border crisis may be having here.

There are 29 defendants spread out among multiple states and Mexico.

There was a hearing in U.S. District Court on Thursday to start navigating how best to proceed toward trial. They will all be tried together, prosecutors said.

Genaro “Chilango” Rosas-Vargas, 39, is the alleged kingpin of an operation that used couriers to funnel the drugs to St. Louis while funneling money and weapons to Mexico, with Rosas-Vargas allegedly brokering deals with cartels across that country. He was arrested earlier this year while crossing the border into the United States.

The other 28 defendants allegedly handled the day-to-day drug business in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County from February to December 2023.

Undercover investigators came to know those defendants by nicknames like “Cheeseburger” and “Chester.”

“(The investigators) started with individual, street-level dealing and found out where that came from,” Asst. U.S. Attorney Dane Rennier said. “An investigation starts at an initial point and then works outward from there. Where we initially discovered it was obviously in the St. Louis area. The investigation moved outward and upward from there…they just continued to work through that case to identify all of the targets involved and gather the evidence.”

Investigators allegedly seized 125 kilos of fentanyl, meth, and cocaine, estimated to be worth more than a million dollars, plus more than $132,000 cash, along with two vehicles, eight handguns and assault-style rifles.

“It was a fantastic investigation by the DEA as well as several other cooperating agencies. They’ve done a great job over the last year, year and a half. I do think it’s made St. Louis and a lot of places safer,” Rennier said. “I think it’s a significant amount of drugs, just in seizures involved in the case. So, I think it will make an impact.”

A written court motion to detain Rosas-Vargas with no bond said there’s evidence that he has been smuggling people into the United States, charging fees of $5,000-$11,000; the people could work off the debt by trafficking drugs.

Twenty-eight of the 29 defendants are now jailed. The next hearing is set for August. A trial date has not yet been set.