Mexico extradites 13 suspects, including reputed drug lords, to the U.S.
Mexico extradited 13 people to the United States on Wednesday, including two top drug lords and several suspects in two high-profile 2011 crimes involving Americans — an attack on immigration agents in San Luis Potosi and the killing of consulate workers in Ciudad Juarez.
The move was part of a new coordination effort between Mexico and the U.S. to fight organized crime, which arose from a June meeting between U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch and her Mexican counterpart, Arely Gomez, a U.S. Justice Department statement said.
The extraditions also come on the heels of the July 11 escape by the world’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, from the maximum security prison Altiplano. Mexican officials had said it was impossible for him to escape and he wouldn’t be extradited for “300 or 400 years.” Many speculated that his blatant flight through a tunnel beneath his cell strained U.S.-Mexico relations.
Among those sent to the U.S. were Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” a top lieutenant to the late Arturo Beltran Leyva who later led his own faction of the Beltran Leyva cartel, and Jorge Costilla Sanchez, known as “El Coss,” an alleged former leader of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, federal prosecutor Tomas Zeron said.
Zeron said the group included Jose Emanuel Garcia Sota, who is charged in the 2011 killing of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata. It also includes three suspects — Luis Umberto Hernandez Celis, Alberto Nunez Payan and Ricardo Valles de la Rosa — charged in the March 2010 killings in Ciudad Juarez of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee.
The United States filed an extradition request for Guzman more than two weeks before his escape. His lawyer told several news organizations in August that his flight was a direct result of learning that extradition was imminent.
Valdez and Costilla also were housed at Altiplano and had been in custody several years before the extradition requests were honored.
Valdez, who was arrested in 2010, faces drug trafficking charges in Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. The U.S.-born former Texas high school football player and petty street dealer allegedly rose to become one of Mexico’s most savage cartel assassins. He was nicknamed “the Barbie” for his fair complexion and green eyes.
Costilla, who was arrested in 2012, was charged in 2002 in the Southern District of Texas with cocaine and marijuana importation and distribution, money laundering and threatening federal law enforcement officers with assault, kidnapping or murder, according to the Justice Department.
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