SAN DIEGO (CNS) - One of the alleged members of the notorious Arellano-Felix drug cartel was extradited from Mexico to the United States Friday and is due Tuesday in federal court in San Diego.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, was arrested in Tijuana in October 2008 following a gun battle with a Mexican Special Tactical Team. A final order of extradition was granted in 2010, and two years of unsuccessful appeals followed.
"This extradition is a significant step in our effort to bring another key figure in the Arellano-Felix Organization to answer, in an American court of law, to very serious charges," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. "We are grateful to the government of Mexico for its assistance in the extradition."
Authorities said the AFO, one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations, controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. Its operations also extended into southern Mexico, as well as Colombia.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix is charged with conducting the affairs of an illegal enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana, as well as money laundering.
The indictment alleges that the leadership of the AFO negotiated directly with Colombian cocaine-trafficking organizations for the purchase of multi-ton shipments of the drug, received those shipments by sea and air, in Mexico, and then arranged for the smuggling of the cocaine into the U.S. and its further distribution throughout the country.
The proceeds of the AFO's drug trafficking, estimated by law enforcement to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, were then smuggled back into Mexico, according to the indictment.
Brothers Benjamin Arellano-Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, former leaders of the AFO, are currently serving sentences in the United States following their convictions for racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering.