US arrests top Mexican drug cartel leader

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has arrested Javier Arellano Felix, a leader of one of Mexico's most feared drug cartels, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

    Arellano Felix was detained at sea along with 10 other people believed to be part of his organization. They were arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard, which boarded their ship about 15 nautical miles off the coast of La Paz, Mexico.

    "Javier was one of the most ruthless thugs that was involved in drug trafficking around the world," Michael Braun, chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, told a news conference.

    "He was the last stronghold in the declining (Arellano Felix organization) family cartel," Braun said. "We feel like we've taken the head off the snake here."

    Arellano Felix and the 10 others, including 7 adults and three juveniles, were being taken to San Diego to face charges, said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

    The Arellano Felix family gang was once Mexico's most powerful and feared drug cartel, running a vast smuggling operation out of the gritty border city of Tijuana.

    It lost some of its power in 2002, when its enforcer, Ramon Arellano Felix, was killed in a shootout with police and his brother, Benjamin, the cartel's mastermind, was arrested weeks later.

    Still, anti-narcotics experts say the family remained very much in business and had cut deals with the Gulf cartel based in Mexico's northeastern state of Tamaulipas.

    Braun said the arrests were part of a "very long, very complex" undercover operation. The DEA asked the U.S. Coast Guard for help after receiving a tip about the boat carrying Arellano Felix.

    Members of the Arellano Felix organization, including Javier, were indicted in the United States in 2003 for racketeering, conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

    U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said the indictment also accused the organization of committing 20 murders in the United States and Mexico.

    The U.S. government had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information on Javier Arellano Felix and others.

    Turf wars across Mexico have claimed more than 1,000 lives in the last year.

    (additional reporting by Kieran Murray in Mexico City)
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