Mexico arrests suspected drug trafficker
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican police have arrested an alleged former top operator for the Arellano Felix drug gang who was named in a 2003 U.S. indictment, the Mexican federal prosecutors’ office said Friday.
Suspect Manuel Aguirre Galindo faces drug trafficking and criminal conspiracy charges in Mexico. An official with the attorney general’s office who was not authorized to be quoted by name said Aguirre Galindo was arrested by federal police Saturday in Mexico City.
The official said Aguirre Galindo is being held at a maximum security prison in Mexico, and that there is no current U.S. extradition request.
The arrest came only eight days after a federal judge in San Diego dismissed charges against him at the request of prosecutors. Aguirre Galindo was named in a U.S. federal indictment against the cartel for, among other things, trafficking drugs into the country.
“Our case against Manuel Aguirre Galindo was more than 15 years old,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Given the passage of time, the United States faced challenges with evidence and availability of witnesses that could not be overcome.”
John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor who co-wrote the 2003 indictment, said the evidence against Aguirre Galindo was “fairly strong” in 2005.
Aguirre Galindo was a “senior leader” in the Arellano Felix cartel who helped decide who to kill and had extensive connections with Colombian cocaine traffickers, according to the 2003 indictment against the cartel’s top leaders.
“He was the one who really had the cocaine connections down in Colombia, that was his value,” Kirby said.
The gang was known for its violent and brutal control of the drug trade in the border city of Tijuana in the 1990s. Most of the seven Arellano Felix brothers have been arrested or died, reducing the cartel to a shadow of its former self.
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat contributed to this report from San Diego.