A suspected leader of a major Mexican drug cartel has pleaded not guilty to drug possession charges in a U.S. court.

Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix entered his plea Monday at a court in San Diego, in the western state of California. He faces charges of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute it in 1980. If convicted, he could face 30 years in prison.

The suspect fled California to Mexico two decades ago and was extradited to the U.S. last Saturday.

Arellano Felix is one of several brothers said to be behind an infamous Mexican drug gang. His younger brother, Javier Arellano Felix, was captured on a fishing boat off the coast of Mexico in August. He also faces drug charges in San Diego.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.