Photo: Eduardo Arellano Felix
Mexico has extradited Eduardo Arellano Felix to the United States to face money laundering, drug trafficking and racketeering charges in San Diego, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy made the announcement, saying Arellano Felix must make an initial appearance in court in San Diego on Tuesday.
“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. We are grateful to the government of Mexico for its assistance in the extradition,” Duffy was quoted as saying in Friday’s statement.
Arellano Felix, 55, was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana in October 2008 after a shootout with police and the final extradition order was issued in 2010.
For his part, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent William R. Sherman said the extradition of Arellano Felix “marks the end of a 20-year DEA investigation into this vicious drug cartel.”
Eduardo and brothers Ramon, Benjamin and Francisco Javier were the top leaders of Mexico’s Arellano Felix cartel, which dominated the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States between 1986 and 2002.
After Francisco Javier’s arrest by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2006, Eduardo had remained the last brother on the lam.
Benjamin had been detained in 2002 in Mexico and was extradited to the United States in 2011. He was sentenced in April to 25 years in prison by a federal court in San Diego after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Ramon was killed in a shootout in the western state of Sinaloa in 2002.
In the brutal power struggle that ensued after all the original bosses were killed or placed behind bars, leadership of the organization eventually passed to Fernando Sanchez Arellano, a.k.a. “The Engineer,” a nephew of the founders.