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Mexico to Extradite Tijuana Drug Kingpin to US


Mexico says it will extradite the leader of a Tijuana-based drug cartel to the United States - where he is wanted on five charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering, organized crime and racketeering.

The Mexican attorney general's office said Wednesday the Mexican government has agreed to extradite Benjamin Arellano Felix, who faces trial in a U.S. federal court in California.

The decision overturns a Mexican judge's opinion that a trial in the United States would mean trying him on the same charges twice. The attorney general's office said the charges against Arellano Felix in the United States are different than the charges he was tried for in Mexico.

Arellano Felix's defense attorney says he will appeal the order within 15 days.

Arellano Felix headed a powerful Tijuana-based drug cartel, just across the U.S. border from San Diego, California, until his arrest in 2002. He is accused of smuggling tons of cocaine into California between 1990 and 2000.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed some 24,000 troops and federal agents across the country to battle drug traffickers.

Authorities have cracked down on the Arellano Felix drug cartel, arresting or killing the brothers who took turns running it.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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