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Arellano Indictment Opens Door for Death Penalty

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Aired 4/19/09

A new indictment unsealed in the case against suspected Mexican drug cartel leader Francisco Javier Arellano Felix will allow the prosecution to seek the death penalty. Francisco Javier and another alleged cartel member will be arraigned in federal court on the new charges in San Diego Wednesday. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

The indictment charges Francisco Javier Arellano Felix and Arturo Villareal Heredia with illegally trafficking narcotics, laundering the proceeds and conducting a continuing criminal enterprise in Tijuana.

The indictment further alleges the two kidnapped, tortured and murdered informants and rival traffickers. It says they systematically bribed Mexican law enforcement and military personnel and murdered those who did not cooperate.

Francisco Javier has allegedly been a member of the Arellano Felix Cartel for fifteen years, and its top leader since 2002.

Meanwhile, Villareal has allegedly been one of Arellano's top lieutenants for the last four years. Villareal was supposedly in charge of crews that carried out enforcement operations for the cartel.

The U.S. Attorney General will decide whether to seek the death penalty at a later date. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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