Government officials report that Mexico has extradited 13 people associated with drug trafficking to the United States. In addition to the drug trafficking related crimes, the defendants were wanted on a number of other charges, including the murder of a United States Consulate employee, money laundering and several violent crimes.
United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement that, “Today’s extraditions would not have been possible without the close collaboration and productive relationship the Department of Justice enjoys with officials at the highest levels of law enforcement in Mexico.”
One of those extradited is Edgar Valdez, known as La Barbie because of his fair complexion. The Texas-born Valdez headed the Beltran Leyva cartel until he was arrested in the summer of 2010. He became one of the most powerful figures in the cartel after Mexican soldiers killed former boss Arturo Beltran Leyva in 2009. Valdez’ rise to power set off a power struggle within the gang.
According to officials, Valdez grew up in Texas selling marijuana and eventually worked himself up the ranks to become a Mexican drug lord. He faces drug charges in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana.
Also extradited is Jorge Costilla Sanchez known as El Cos. He was the long-time leader of the Gulf cartel who was captured by the Mexican navy in 2012. According to the United States Department of Justice, Costilla was charged in 2002 in Texas with importing and distributing marijuana and cocaine, money laundering and threatening federal law enforcement officers with assault, kidnapping or murder.
Another suspect sent over the border included Jose Emanuel Garcia Sota, who faces charges related to the 2011 killing of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.
Prior to their extradition, some of the prisoners were residents of central Mexico’s maximum security facility, Altiplano. The prison was the scene of the escape of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The escape was a huge embarrassment for Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, and the extraditions were carried out three months after the dramatic escape occurred.