Tuesday, September 4, 2012
An alleged member of the notorious Arellano-Felix drug cartel, who's accused of drug trafficking, money laundering, racketeering and ordering at least three killings in the 1990s, pleaded not guilty to federal charges today and was ordered held without bail.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, was extradited from Mexico to the United States last week.
The defendant, described in an indictment as a "senior adviser'' to his brother Benjamin, was arrested in Tijuana in October 2008 following a gun battle with a Mexican Special Tactical Team.
A final order of extradition was granted in 2010, and two years of unsuccessful appeals followed.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy called the defendant's extradition a "milestone in our fight against the Mexican drug cartels.''
Arellano-Felix, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in San Diego amid heavy security.
Magistrate Judge Barbara Major set a detention hearing for Friday, after prosecutor Joseph Green said the defendant was a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Eduardo Arellano-Felix faces up to 140 years in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said the AFO, one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations, controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. Its operations also extended into southern Mexico, as well as Colombia.
The indictment alleges that the leadership of the AFO negotiated directly with Colombian cocaine-trafficking organizations for the purchase of multi-ton shipments of the drug, received those shipments by sea and air, in Mexico, and then arranged for the smuggling of the cocaine into the U.S. and its further distribution throughout the country.
The proceeds of the AFO's drug trafficking, estimated by law enforcement to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, were then smuggled back into Mexico, according to the indictment.
Brothers Benjamin Arellano-Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, former leaders of the AFO, are currently serving sentences in the United
States, where they were convicted of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering.
An older brother, Francisco Rafael Arellano-Felix, was deported to Mexico after he served a six-year sentence for selling cocaine.