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15 accused criminals, drug traffickers extradited to U.S. from Mexico

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Charges against the 15 range from murder to money laundering to drug trafficking
  • The extraditions occurred over the past five days
  • The suspects are described as "dangerous and violent"

Washington (CNN) -- Fifteen Mexican defendants charged in the United States with crimes ranging from murder to money laundering to drug trafficking have been extradited to the U.S., the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Secretly spiriting the subjects described as "dangerous and violent" from Mexico has been taking place over the past five days, authorities revealed Tuesday. The last three were flown to Chicago Tuesday afternoon to stand trial on narcotics trafficking offenses.

Nine were whisked to waiting lawmen in Houston on Saturday. Three others were flown to different U.S. locations to face state charges.

Among those extradited was Rigoberto Yanez, who authorities said was a high-ranking member of the Tijuana Cartel/Arellano Felix Organization. Yanez allegedly oversaw kidnapping and killing of rival traffickers, and was the cartel's primary representative in Mexico City handling the flow of outbound drugs and inbound cash.

Also extradited was Jose Escobedo, who escaped from prison in Texas in 2006 after serving only half of his 10 year sentence for drug trafficking.

Louis Barrientos Barba, who fled to Mexico after being released on bail, is scheduled to be returned to Webb County, Texas, to face aggravated assault charges.

Timoteo Rios is charged with the murder of a mother outside a Houston retail store. He allegedly stabbed her, stole her keys, and took off with her car with her baby in the back seat. The mother later died of stab wounds.

Rios will face murder charges in Houston.

The prisoner flights bring to 86 the total number of criminals and suspects extradited from Mexico to the U.S. so far in 2010.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer credited the extraditions to "stronger partnerships with Mexico in many areas of law enforcement."

"With these extraditions of individuals who committed or stand charged with violent and dangerous crimes, we look forward to seeing those partnerships continue to strengthen," Breuer said.