Photo: Prensa Libre
A Guatemalan court has given the United States 40 working days to present evidence against Walter Alirio Montejo, a Guatemalan suspected of belonging to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and the subject of a U.S. extradition request, judicial officials said.
Montejo was arrested Sunday in Huehuetenango, a province on the border with Mexico.
The suspect appeared before a criminal court in Guatemala City on Tuesday and refused to make a statement.
The court has given a U.S. federal court in the District of Columbia time to present evidence to back the extradition request.
The 38-year-old Montejo allegedly belongs to the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s oldest and most powerful drug trafficking organization, and is wanted on drug charges in the United States.
An arrest warrant was issued for Montejo by U.S. authorities in 2010, judicial officials said.
Montejo allegedly received drugs in Guatemala from South America that were bound for the United States.
The suspect belonged to the Los Lorenzana gang, which smuggled drugs into Mexico from Huehuetenango, judicial officials said, adding that the narcotics were later smuggled into the United States.
Montejo, according to Guatemalan authorities, was the target of a hit in November 2008 that sparked a shootout between Mexican and Guatemalan drug traffickers that left 17 people dead in a village in Huehuetenango.
Waldemar Lorenzana, the suspected leader of the Los Lorenzana gang, was arrested in April 2011 at the request of the United States, where he is the subject of an extradition case.
Guatemalan authorities have not yet acted on the request for the extradition of Lorenzana, who faces drug charges in the United States.
Elio Lorenzana, Waldemar’s son, was arrested in Guatemala in November 2011 and his extradition was authorized in February.
The Sinaloa cartel is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western Mexican state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.
The Sinaloa organization is sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel.
Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.