U.S. hands former Tijuana drug cartel boss to Mexico

Arellano Felix cartel smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars in narcotics

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Former Mexican drug cartel leader Eduardo Arellano Felix was handed over by the United States to Mexico on Monday to face criminal charges, including organized crime, after serving time in a U.S. federal prison in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The Mexican Army and the attorney general’s office, known as the FGR, received Arellano Felix at the Brownsville-Matamoros border crossing and then sent him to the maximum security prison “El Altiplano”, the FGR said in a statement.

Arellano Felix was identified as Eduardo A in the statement, but a spokesperson for the FGR confirmed his identity to Reuters.

The United States indicted Arellano Felix in 2003 on drug smuggling and money laundering charges and had offered a reward of up to $5 million for his capture. He was captured by Mexican security forces after a shootout in the violent border city of Tijuana in 2008.

Arellano Felix was then extradited to the United States in 2012, where he pleaded guilty to laundering money for the notorious cartel that bore his family name. He was sentenced in 2013 in California to 15 years in prison, becoming the last of four brothers killed or sent to prison in connection with the Arellano Felix drug trafficking ring.

Because he cooperated with U.S. authorities he only served part of the sentence, the FGR said.

At the height of its power, the Arellano Felix cartel smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars in narcotics. The organization continues to operate thanks to alliances with other powerful cartels.