Mexico breaks extradition record

From AP, Aug. 28:

Mexico has broken its record for the most extraditions to the United States in a year, shipping a man north of the border Tuesday who is wanted in Georgia for drug trafficking. Hilario Larrago, who faces methamphetamine trafficking charges, is the 64th fugitive sent to the United States by Mexico this year. Last year, Mexico sent 63 suspects to the United States, U.S. Ambassador in Mexico Tony Garza said in a statement.

“This impressive accomplishment clearly shows that our teamwork is making it increasingly more difficult for criminals to cross the border in hope of finding a safe haven,” Garza said.

Garza said that of this year’s extraditions, 52 are Mexican citizens and the rest U.S. citizens or nationals of other countries. Twenty-six were extradited to face drug trafficking charges, 21 for murder, 14 for violent sexual offenses, one for alien smuggling, one for kidnapping and another for theft of U.S. Treasury checks.

“I applaud President (Felipe) Calderon and all Mexican law enforcement agencies for supporting this strong U.S.-Mexico partnership against crime that crosses our borders,”

In January, shortly after Calderon took office, Mexico extradited four alleged top drug traffickers, including purported Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas.

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco wars.

  1. Mexico nabs Gulf Cartel kingpin
    From AP, Aug. 29:

    MEXICO CITY — Mexico has arrested a purported high-level Gulf drug cartel member wanted in Texas for allegedly threatening to kill U.S. federal agents, federal prosecutors said after a raid on a steak house in Mexico City.

    Juan Carlos de La Cruz Reyna, a former policeman in the northern state of Tamaulipas believed to be a senior figure in the Gulf cartel, was arrested along with three Colombians and three other Mexican drug suspects, the attorney general’s office said in a news release on Wednesday.

    Soldiers and federal police made the arrests as they raided the Rincon Argentina restaurant in the wealthy Polanco neighborhood on Tuesday night.

    In 2003, the attorney general’s office listed de la Cruz Reyna as a “direct collaborator” with the imprisoned cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, who was arrested in northern Mexico that same year and has been extradited to the United States.

    Based in Tampico, Tamaulipas, de la Cruz Reyna was responsible for moving drugs from northern Veracruz state to the Mexico-U.S. border and led a network of 300 drug traffickers, including local police officers, federal prosecutors said.

    De la Cruz Reyna allegedly began coordinating the shipments of drugs from Colombia and Central America after the June arrest of another top Gulf cartel member.

    According to a federal indictment in Brownsville, Texas, de la Cruz Reyna was among a group of at least 15 police and drug traffickers armed with assault weapons who in 1999 cornered Drug Enforcement Administration agent Joe Dubois and FBI agent Daniel Fuentes in their car in the border city of Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville. Cardenas, who was with the men, reportedly stuck his head and a submachine gun into the U.S. agents’ car and told the agents he would kill them if they did not turn over an informant who was traveling with them.

    U.S. authorities say the agents saved the informant and escaped by talking their way out of the situation. The agents were given the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Heroism.

    U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza praised the arrest, saying in a news release. “I applaud the unwavering commitment of the (Mexican President Felipe) Calderon administration … to pursue, confront, and disband the armed criminal gangs operating in Mexico.”

    The Gulf Cartel is one of Mexico’s most powerful and brutal trafficking gangs and is believed responsible for much of the bloodshed along the Mexican border with Texas.

    U.S. investigators believe that at its height, the Gulf cartel had cells in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and other U.S. cities and moved tons of cocaine per month into the United States.

  2. Tijuana kingpin gets 22 years
    From the San Diego Tribune, Sept. 5:

    Drug kingpin Benjamín Arellano Félix, whose Tijuana cartel once supplied 40 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States, has been sentenced to 22 years in Mexico’s toughest maximum-security prison, the Mexican federal Attorney General’s Office said yesterday.

    Arellano, 54, was sentenced Monday by a federal judge on organized crime and drug trafficking charges. In April, he received a five-year sentence for possession of an AK-47 and a .38-caliber pistol during his March 2002 arrest in a home he shared with his family in Puebla state.

    Monday’s sentencing concludes the Mexican government’s case against Arellano and opens the possibility of extradition to San Diego, where he was indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2003 on drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering charges, law enforcement sources said.