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Alleged senior member of Tijuana drug cartel extradited to U.S.

By Carol Cratty, CNN
updated 5:58 PM EDT, Fri August 31, 2012
Eduardo Arellano-Felix is scheduled to make his first court appearance in San Diego on September 4.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix is scheduled to make his first court appearance in San Diego on September 4.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, faces charges of narcotics trafficking and racketeering
  • He was arrested in 2008, after a gun battle with Mexican forces
  • Two of his brothers have already been convicted in the United States

(CNN) -- A man alleged to be a senior member of a Tijuana-based drug cartel was extradited from Mexico to the United States on Friday to stand trial.

Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, faces charges of narcotics trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.

He was arrested on October 25, 2008, after a gunbattle with Mexican forces, the Justice Department said. Arellano-Felix was ordered extradited to the United States in 2010 but spent nearly two years on unsuccessful appeals of his case.

"The extradition of Eduardo Arellano-Felix today marks the end of a 20-year DEA investigation into this vicious drug cartel," said William Sherman, the Drug Enforcement Agency's acting special agent in charge in San Diego.

According to a Justice Department news release, his cartel, the Arellano-Felix Organization, "controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States." Prosecutors said the group brought Colombian cocaine into Mexico by sea and air, then smuggled it into the United States for sale.

The Justice Department estimates the cartel made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.

"The FBI is pleased with Mexico's efforts to bring to justice a leader from one of the most violent criminal enterprises in our history," said San Diego FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn. "The spirit of cooperation between our two countries is a powerful force in disrupting the criminal activities of these groups that instill fear and threaten the safety of our citizens in the border regions of the United States."

Arellano-Felix is scheduled to make his first court appearance in San Diego on September 4.

The Justice Department noted two brothers of the accused already are serving time in the United States. Benjamin Arellano-Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix were convicted on drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering charges.

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