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U.S. charges 43 with ties to Mexican drug cartel

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Suspects accused of links to Arellano Felix drug cartel
  • Crimes range from drug-trafficking violations to kidnapping and murder

(CNN) -- The U.S. government has charged 43 people with suspected ties to a leading Mexican drug cartel with participating in a federal racketeering conspiracy, the Justice Department said Friday.

Included in the indictment is an official in Baja California, Jesus Quinones Marques, who the complaint alleges used his position working with the U.S. government to go after rivals and to pass confidential information along to the Fernando Sanchez Organization, described in the statement as an offshoot of the Arellano Felix drug cartel.

His arrest highlights the difficulty of fighting crime along the U.S.-Mexico border, where drug-related violence has surged and local authorities' aims often seem at odds.

Of the 43 people indicted, 35 have been arrested, according to Deb Hartman of the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, California. The defendants are accused of crimes ranging from firearms and drug-trafficking violations to kidnapping and murder.