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Homeland Security

24 March 2003

U.S. Hails Capture of Head of Powerful Mexican Drug Gang

(DEA says trafficker sent huge amount of drugs into United States)
Washington -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has
hailed the capture by Mexican law enforcement officials of a powerful
Mexican drug lord, calling him one of the world's most wanted, feared,
and violent drug traffickers.
The DEA said in a March 21 statement that Osiel Cardenas-Guillen
headed a major Mexican drug trafficking organization based in Reynosa
and Matamoros that controlled large-scale marijuana and cocaine
trafficking from Mexico to the United States. U.S. officials described
the suspect as an extremely violent man who was nicknamed the "friend
killer" for purges of his own organization. The officials said that
capturing Cardenas-Guillen was a priority for law enforcement because
he had openly threatened U.S. federal narcotics agents.
The Cardenas-Guillen organization was responsible for the transport of
thousands of kilograms of drugs into the United States from Colombia
through Mexico's northeast region. The drugs were hidden under
tractor-trailer loads of carrots, lettuce, limes, jalapeno peppers,
and Chinese parsley. Moreover, millions of dollars in drug money
returned to the traffickers through the same corridor.
Cardenas-Guillen was captured March 14 through the combined efforts of
the government of Mexico, the DEA, and other U.S. law enforcement
The capture of Cardenas-Guillen was important, the DEA said, because
it "sends a message to traffickers that violence and intimidation will
not protect them from law enforcement."
The "catalyst" for the investigation and operation into successfully
bringing about Cardenas-Guillen's apprehension, the DEA said, was the
November 1999 assault and attempted kidnapping of two U.S. federal
agents. A confidential source subsequently provided information into
the workings of Cardenas-Guillen's organization.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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