Cecilia Virgen-DeLeon

Cecilia Virgen-DeLeon was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of helping to pass information through L.A. County jails from Kansas. (Saline County Sheriff's Department)

Authorities have arrested a purported "secretary" for the Mexican Mafia who allegedly helped funnel information through Los Angeles County jails -- from her home in Kansas.

Cecilia Virgen-DeLeon, 31, was taken into custody about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in Salina, a town of about 50,000 in the heart of the state, L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Francis Hardiman said in a phone interview outside of nearby Abilene. 

The so-called secretaries of organized crime groups often use fraudulent cellphone accounts to help push information -- about drug movements, hits and other matters -- to shot-callers inside the jails, Hardiman said.

"In order to pass that information ... they need people on the outside to do that for them," he said. "And that person on the outside, for the last little bit, was this young lady."

"The secretaries are the cogs that make this criminal wheel go round," he added.

Technology has enabled secretaries to operate in locations away from the jails, Hardiman said -- but Kansas is not typically on the list of locales.

"It's definitely not the norm, that someone is this far away, but it's not uncommon," he said. "The skill set that is required of a secretary is not necessarily that of, 'Hey, you've got to be centrally located in the 213.'"

This time, Hardiman said, it was "the 785" -- the area code that covers most of northern Kansas.

Salina Police Lt. Jim Norton told The Salina Journal that Virgen-DeLeon had lived in Kansas for about a year and had been accused of no crimes in the state. He told the newspaper she was thought to be a member of the Surenos gang, of which 120 to 150 members had been identified in Salina.

Hardiman said Virgen-DeLeon's neighbors "had no idea" about her alleged crimes.

She was booked in the Saline County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon and street terrorism, Hardiman said. She was awaiting extradition Thursday.

As far as why she picked Kansas?

"Why not?" Hardiman said.

ALSO:

Man arrested after allegedly refusing to pay for 'too rare' steak

Palmdale parents questioned in possible torture of 8-year-old boy

Coroner digging up backyard in search of woman missing since 1978

Twitter: @katemather | Google+
kate.mather@latimes.com