An alleged Chicago drug boss accused of flying tonnes of cocaine to Australia in private planes for a Mexican cartel has failed in his bid to be released from jail.

Jose "Juanito" Mares-Barragan remained locked up in Chicago's high-rise Metropolitan Correctional Centre on Monday after judge Maria Valdez pointed to his strong ties to Mexico.

US prosecutors allege Mares-Barragan, 31, was the co-head of a Chicago drug trafficking organisation working for Mexico's ruthless Sinaloa cartel and had enticed pilots with large cash windfalls to fly cocaine to Australia and other parts of the world.

Judge Valdez, at a bail hearing in the US District Court in Chicago, said Mares-Barragan frequently travelled to Mexico, his US passport was stored at his home in Mexico and his business, a music studio, was located in the Mexican home.

"Because of these significant ties to Mexico it is insufficient to reasonably assure this court that the defendant will not be a serious flight risk," Judge Valdez said.

The judge also described the weight of evidence against Mares-Barragan as strong, with prosecutors successfully turning his former partner, codenamed Individual A, into an informant.

"Individual A advised that his/her associates were moving millions of dollars per month from Australia to the United States, and that the money was being used to purchase cocaine to be sold in Australia," special agent for the DEA, Christopher O'Reilly, wrote in the criminal complaint lodged against Mares-Barragan.

Mares-Barragan was arrested on January 22 and charged with conspiracy to attempt to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.

 

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