Key Mexican drug cartel suspect extradited to U.S.

By Jerry Seper-The Washington Times

A drug cartel responsible for killing thousands of people in Mexico‘s border cities has been dealt another law enforcement setback with the extradition of a key player to the United States on charges of smuggling heroin, cocaine and marijuana into west Texas for later shipment to other parts of the United States.

Felipe Dominguez-Vargas, a purported “cell leader” of the infamous Juarez drug cartel, made his initial appearance in federal court in El Paso on Monday, where he waived his detention hearing and was ordered to remain in custody pending trial.

The violent Juarez cartel, which controls major smuggling routes into the United States for billions of dollars worth of illegal drug shipments annually and is known to have beheaded its rivals and mutilated their corpses, has suffered significant setbacks over the past several months at the hands of Mexican and U.S. law enforcement authorities, including:

• The sentencing in December of drug kingpin Gilberto Salinas Doria in federal court in New York to 27 years in prison for importing at least 200 tons of cocaine into the United States. The sentence was handed down after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges following his extradition from Mexico in March 2007.

Prosecutors said Salinas Doria received at least 200 tons of cocaine and arranged for their shipment and delivery to wholesale distributors in New York and other U.S. cities.

• The extradition in April to the United States of Juan Jose Quintero Payan, one of the founders of the Juarez cartel, who was accused of running a smuggling operation for more than two decades.

Quintero Payan had been sought by U.S. authorities since 1985 and was convicted in Mexico on drug charges in 1999. While Mexico denied an extradition request in early 2000, it was accepted in 2006. He is the uncle of Mexican drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, who was convicted in Mexico in the 1985 killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

• The May extradition of Mario Villanueva Madrid, a former governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, who was accused of taking “millions of dollars” in bribes to order his state police to serve as armed guards for Juarez cartel smugglers as they off-loaded and transported more than 200 tons of cocaine from Colombian speedboats that eventually found their way to the U.S.

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