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Alleged Mexican cartel operative 'La Bonita' arrested

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Thu July 5, 2012
Anel Violeta Noriega Rios helped oversee the cartel's meth distribution activities in California and Washington state, officials said.
Anel Violeta Noriega Rios helped oversee the cartel's meth distribution activities in California and Washington state, officials said.
  • Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, is known as "La Bonita" in Mexico
  • She's allegedly one of the main U.S. operatives for the violent La Familia cartel
  • U.S. officers arrest her on immigration violations and hand her to Mexican authorities
  • Mexico put a 5 million peso ($375,000) reward on her for alleged drug trafficking

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The alleged U.S. operative of a Mexican cartel was known as "The Pretty One." That was her alias in Mexico "La Bonita, " according to Mexican officials.

This week the fugitive is back in Mexico in custody following her capture by U.S. authorities in the Los Angeles area on immigration violations.

Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, was the subject of a 5 million peso (about $375,000) reward by Mexican authorities and is charged in a 64-page criminal warrant issued in January 2010 in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas for alleged organized crime and drug trafficking, authorities said.

Noriega Rios is an alleged member of the La Familia cartel based in the Mexican state of Michoacan, and she was one of its main U.S.-based operatives, authorities charge. The cartel is known to be "extremely violent," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

Mexican authorities charge that Noriega Rios helped oversee the cartel's methamphetamine distribution activities in California and Washington state, ICE officials said.

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The cartel also is allegedly engaged in cocaine and marijuana trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and producing methamphetamine for export to the United States, U.S. officials said.

ICE officers and U.S. marshals arrested Noriega Rios without incident last week at her El Monte, California, residence, about 14 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

Noriega Rios was arrested on "administrative immigration violations," and two days later she was turned over to Mexican authorities at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, U.S. officials said.

U.S. and Mexican authorities exchanged "strategic information" that led to her capture, ICE officials said.

"Mexican officials note the case also demonstrates the ongoing commitment between ICE and the Office of the General Attorney of Mexico (PGR) to address matters of mutual concern," an ICE statement said this week.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security databases show that Noriega Rios had been arrested and repatriated to Mexico five times between 2004 and 2005 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents, and she had no U.S. criminal convictions, ICE officials said.

She was delivered to Mexican authorities last week after ICE officers reinstated a prior order for her removal from 2004, ICE officials said.

In a statement, David Marin, acting field office director of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations in Los Angeles, said U.S. authorities "will continue to work closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Mexico to assure the safety of law abiding citizens in both nations."

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