Cartel Leader Extradited to Texas for Trial

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Judge's gavel and Texas flag | Image by rawf8

Former Gulf Cartel leader Mario Cardenas-Guillen made his initial appearance in a Texas court. He pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges and was remanded into custody pending the start of his trial.

Last week, the Department of Justice announced that Cardenas-Guillen was extradited to the United States to stand trial in Texas’ eastern district.

Cardenas-Guillen, 57, had been awaiting extradition in a Mexican prison since 2012 after being indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

According to the 2012 indictment, Cardenas-Guillen allegedly worked with other cartel members to distribute cocaine, including to the United States, from 2000 until his detainment in 2012.

“International sources of illegal drugs continue to poison our communities,” U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said. “We will make every effort to combat this scourge, and that includes going to the origin of the drugs in foreign countries and arresting and prosecuting those who seek to make a profit off this blight that adversely affects so many in our society.”

Anne Milgram of the DEA added that this “should send a clear message to the leaders of drug trafficking organizations around the world that no one is beyond the reach of the DEA and our law enforcement partners.”

According to the Dallas Observer, Cardenas-Guillen served a prison term in Mexico from 1995 to 2007 for similar charges.

Cardenas-Guillen is the brother of Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, who allegedly founded the Los Zetas Cartel.

Al Dia reported that Osiel is currently serving a 25-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado for money laundering, drug trafficking, and threats against federal officers.

According to InSight Crime, Mexico’s Gulf Cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest and most powerful criminal organizations, with origins dating to 1984. Their primary function is the distribution of cocaine and heroin to Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.

The Mexican government released a statement last month detailing the results of a U.S.-Mexico partnership called the Bicentennial Framework. One aspect of the deal calls for Mexico and the United States to work together to combat narcotics manufacturing and trafficking in Mexico and keep guns from entering the border.

U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said that under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the binational committee is fighting the distribution of weapons and narcotics, including Fentanyl.

“You can’t change the realities of the past in a few months,” Salazar said. “But we are making progress, and I am happy to report on that progress and that our team is working very well with our colleagues in the Mexican government to make a difference in this new commitment.”

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