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Four Alleged Arellano Felix Drug Cartel Members Arraigned in San Diego


Aired 4/19/09

Four alleged members of Tijuana's Arellano Felix Drug Cartel refused to enter pleas in federal court today in San Diego. The men face drug trafficking and money laundering charges on this side of the border. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

The four men were recently extradited from Mexico.

They wouldn't plead in court in San Diego because they don't want to recognize the court's authority over them.

US federal prosecutors allege that, at one time, all were high-ranking members of Tijuana's Arellano Felix drug cartel.

Prosecutors say one man, he's a former law enforcement official, was the cartel's chief killer and kidnapper in Mexicali.

They allege another, Jesus Labra Aviles, was the cartel's financial brains. He was arrested nine years ago in Tijuana while watching his son's football game.

Labra's attorneys are challenging his extradition.

They say he's still in trial in Mexico.

They argue sending him to the US before that case is closed violates extradition rules.

The San Diego federal court judge entered not guilty pleas on the defendants' behalf.

Amy Isackson, KPBS news.

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