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Alleged drug cartel leader extradited to US from Mexico after nearly 3 years

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SAN DIEGO -- Alleged drug cartel member Eduardo Arellano-Felix, 55, was extradited from Mexico to the United States Friday to face charges of racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced.

Arellano-Felix was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana, Mexico, on Oct. 25, 2008, after a gun battle with a Mexican Special Tactical Team. An extradition order to the U.S. was granted in 2010, followed by two years of unsuccessful appeals.

Arellano-Felix – allegedly a top leader in the Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) -- finally arrived in San Diego Friday afternoon. He’s scheduled to make his first appearance in court Tuesday.

The AFO is known as one of the most notorious multinational drug trafficking organizations, controlling 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 and Colombia.

The extradition of Arellano-Felix Friday marks a major development in the war on drugs along our border and signals the official end of the notorious AFO.

For the past 20 years, federal prosecutors have been working tirelessly to stop extreme violence across the border fueled by the AFO cartel, which has a long history of torture and murder.

“Everybody in this organization has had somebody killed,” said former federal prosecutor John Kirby.

Kirby helped draft the indictment against the Arellano-Felix cartel which has led to the capture of four of the Arellano brothers.

Handout / REUTERS

Eduardo Arellano-Felix is shown under arrest in Mexico City in October 2008.

Eduardo is the last one to face justice.

“I do have a level of personal satisfaction. Finally, Eduardo, the last one,” said Kirby.

Kirby said Eduardo’s extradition sends a powerful message to other cartels.

"If the Arellano brothers can be brought here, anybody can be,” warned Kirby.

He also believes other cartels have learned not to make the same mistakes made by the Arellano brothers.

"The violence and corruption was just too much, and was too out there, so I think other traffickers might want to think, we want to be much quieter."

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