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Homeland Security

Washington File

10 July 2003

U.S. Indicts 12 Leaders of Mexico's Notorious Arellano-Felix Drug Cartel

(Ashcroft hails cooperation with Mexican officials on indictments)
Washington -- The United States has indicted 12 leaders of Mexico's
notorious Arellano-Felix drug trafficking organization, which is
accused of carrying out more than 100 drug-related murders in the
United States and Mexico, says U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
At a July 8 news conference in San Diego, California, where he
announced the unsealing of two indictments against the 12 defendants,
Ashcroft explained that the Mexican drug cartel controls the flow of
cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs into the United States through
Mexico's border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali. The cartel's
operations also extend into southern Mexico and Colombia, Ashcroft
The attorney general said the indictments resulted from an
"unprecedented show of international cooperation between the United
States and Mexico in criminal narcotics prosecutions." This case
"sends a message to drug dealers everywhere: we will investigate,
prosecute, and punish all those who deal in drugs," Ashcroft warned.
"There is no escape across the border."
Also participating in the news conference was John Walters, director
of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who said
Mexico and the United States "have a shared interest in reducing the
availability of these poisons and punishing those who would push them
on our young people." Walters said both nations are "demonstrably
better off when drug traffickers are brought to justice and fewer
drugs pollute our streets."
The first indictment alleges that beginning in the mid-1980s and
continuing to the present time, the Arellano-Felix drug gang has been
responsible for the importation and distribution in the United States
of many thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana, and has been
"conducting the affairs of an illegal enterprise through a pattern of
racketeering activity, conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and
marijuana, as well as money laundering."
Five of the eleven defendants named in this indictment are currently
in Mexican custody, while the other six are at large and believed to
be in Mexico. Ashcroft said that U.S. officials will seek the
extradition of all 11 individuals from Mexico to stand trial in the
United States.
A second, separate indictment charges Gustavo Rivera-Martinez with
conspiracy to import and distribute controlled substances. The
indictment said Rivera-Martinez is a lieutenant-level manager in the
drug gang, and a close confidant and advisor to Javier Arellano-Felix,
the current leader of the drug gang's trafficking operation in
northern Baja California. Rivera-Martinez remains at large.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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