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US Awaits Extradition of Mexican Drug Cartel Leader - 2002-03-10

U.S. Authorities are awaiting the extradition of the most powerful and dangerous Mexican drug cartel boss from Mexico to the United States. Benjamin Arellano Felix has been arrested in a joint army and police operation early Saturday in central Mexico.

Benjamin Arellano Felix was captured wihtout a gunshot in a middle class suburban neighbourhood of Puebla, 80 kilometers south-east of Mexico city. Mexican President Vicente Fox called the arrest a "major triumph for the forces of law and order". But he cautioned that this is "just one important step we have got to make during this year."

The Tijuana cartel was the most violent and powerful in the whole of the Americas. For years the cartel's gunmen murdered police chiefs, judges, journalists and anyone else who stood in its way. It even stands accused of gunning down a cardinal-Archbishop Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo in a shootout with a rival gang in Guadalajara International Airport almost a decade ago.

Mexican authorities also confirmed that Benjamin's brother Ramon was indeed killed in a shootout with police on February 10. Ramon had been on the FBI's ten most wanted list for more than four years.

In the new special spirit of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, it's extremely likely that Benjamin Arellano Felix will now be promptly extradited to the United States, where he faces a whole host of charges including: drug trafficking and money laundering.

It's alleged that the Tijuana cartel regularly smuggled tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana to many cities in the United States.

Another brother Francisco is awaiting trial on drugs charges in a Mexican Federal Prison, while two other siblings Eduardo and Javier are still on the run.