The suspect, Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, was captured Monday in Amsterdam's Airport Schiphol. He is accused of trafficking methamphetamines, cocaine and marijuana.
Arechiga is presumably a top enforcer for Ismael Zambada, who co-heads the Sinaloa drug organization along with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Dutch police arrested the Mexican man at the request of U.S. authorities after he landed under a different name on a flight from Mexico City. The U.S. government had asked Interpol for help with his arrest.
The man is being held in a Dutch jail, while the U.S. Attorney is seeking his extradition to face charges in a federal court in San Diego.
The Mexican Embassy in the Netherlands said it was aware of the detention of a Mexican citizen and that it was willing to offer consular assistance if he requested help. It did not specifically say it was referring to Arechiga's arrest.
According to local media, Arechiga is also known as "El Chino Antrax," one of the two leaders of a group of hit men who call themselves the Anthrax, like the deadly disease.
Authorities have blamed the cell for a series of murders, including the killings of three men who were hung off a bridge in 2011, which were seen as revenge attacks after one of their leaders was murdered. The Anthrax helped the Sinaloa organization as it engaged in a bloody war with the Beltran Leyva cartel, when the latter decided to splinter in 2008.
El Chino Antrax has been reportedly celebrated and mentioned by name in narcocorridos- popular folk corrido ballads whose lyrics romanticize outlaws and drug traffickers.
CALIFORNIA- A Mexican national is in custody in central California's Madera County after allegedly shooting two men while posing as a police officer. The victims were reportedly carrying a sizable quantity of crystal meth.
The case is "highly unusual" for Madera County because of the amount of "crank" and police regalia found in connection with the crime, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Tuesday.
One suspect was arrested for attempted murder -- Elias Lopez-Martinez, 25, of Mexico. A second suspect has not yet been found.
During a news conference, Anderson summed up the Dec. 30 incident by pointing to two vehicles on display for reporters.
"Semi-bad guys," Anderson said, pointing to a car driven by alleged drug-runners. Then, pointing to the suspects' truck: "Really bad guys."
"These guys are dopers -- these guys are shooters," he said, continuing the comparison, "... coming out to the dope exchange, they didn't bring money, they brought guns. That simple."
Those allegedly transporting the meth initially told authorities they were on back roads near Chowchilla because they were going to "buy a horse," Anderson said, but later admitted "we were kind of out there to do a drug deal."
Anderson gave the following account :
The victims said they pulled over near Avenue 18 1/2 and Road 10 because they thought the truck behind them was police, seeing its blue lights. Once pulled over, two men reportedly ordered the three young men inside to lay on the ground, and then shots were fired.
A 17-year-old from Madera was shot in the liver and remained in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno as of Tuesday. A 22-year-old from Chowchilla was shot in the face, breaking his jaw and most of his teeth. A third passenger, also 17 and from Madera, was unharmed. Names of the victims were not released.
The 22-year-old drove away from the scene and was found about eight miles away after he called 9-1-1.
Detectives followed a blood trail from the scene, to a bloodied dog food bag containing nine pounds of crystal meth worth $45,000. It was hidden beneath a bridge.
"The way this (meth) is wrapped we know it came from Mexico," Anderson said, "which involved Mexican drug cartels."
Anderson said the driver told detectives he picked up the illegal drug in Los Angeles and "my job was to get it up here and get it sold."
The day after the shooting, detectives found the suspects' truck at a gas station on Highway 145 and Avenue 13 in Madera and arrested Lopez-Martinez.
Based on evidence gathered by investigators, a multiagency SWAT team later searched an apartment near Madera South High School, believed to be used by the suspects as a storing place. One pound of crystal meth was found with weapons, ammunition, more than two pounds of marijuana, $2,500, and law enforcement equipment, including tactical gear and body armor, along with fake badges and clothing donning words like "police" and "U.S. Marshals."
Posing as police officers is a common tactic for 'rip crews'- armed robbers who actively seek out and rob drug couriers and storehouses- along the Mexican border in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, but as Sheriff Anderson stated, is quite unusual for California's Central Valley.
COLORADO- Although Mexican drug cartels had a presence in Colorado before this year's legalization of marijuana, officials believe it's only a matter of time before organized crime adapts and take advantage of the situation.
Taking over a trade once ruled by drug cartels and turning it into an all-cash business could make pot shops prime targets for extortion, black-market competition and robbery. One veteran border narcotics agent told FoxNews.com Colorado's legal pot industry will find it hard to keep the criminals from horning in on a lucrative business they once controlled.
"Mexico is already in Colorado without the risks," the agent, who requested anonymity, said of the state's heavy pre-existing cartel presence. "Legal businesses will likely see a rise in extortion attempts while law enforcement will see a lot of backdoor deals being made."
Violent cartels could force their way in as black market wholesalers or simply rob pot dispensaries, which take only cash and have not been able to establish accounts with banks because of lenders' fears of violating federal laws. But the general consensus is that the Mexican cartels will not quietly relinquish the Denver market.
A 2012 report from the Mexican Competitive Institute estimated that Mexican drug trafficking organizations could lose as much as $1.4 billion dollars with legalized pot in the Denver market. Law enforcement believes that the cartels could extort owners of the newly legal pot dispensaries or set up legal shops of their own using straw buyers with clean backgrounds.
TAMAULIPAS- A former governor for the border state of Tamaulipas has been indicted by the US on charges of corruption and drug trafficking. According to the unsealed indictment last month, Tomas Yarrington served as governor of the Mexican state across the Rio Grande from the southern tip of Texas between 1999 and 2004 and took bribes from the Gulf Cartel and laundered drug money into campaign coffers in exchange for turning a blind eye to cartel activity.
In the indictment unsealed Monday, Yarrington is portrayed as an old-style PRI politician, for whom being cozy with drug traffickers was the way to do business.
Starting in 1998, “Yarrington received large bribes from major drug traffickers” in Tamaulipas, including the then-dominant Gulf Cartel, the U.S. attorney’s office of southern Texas said in a statement. The bribes began as he campaigned for governor, continued through his six-year term and afterward, the statement says.
In return, prosecutors allege, Yarrington “allowed them to operate their large-scale, multi-ton enterprises freely, which included the smuggling of large quantities of drugs to the United States for distribution.”
The indictment also alleges that Yarrington, 56, took bribes from local businesses and skimmed public money as well to pad his private accounts.
With suspected accomplice Fernando Cano, a builder, Yarrington then acquired numerous “valuable assets,” mostly across Texas, including homes, airplanes, bank accounts, vehicles and other real estate, worth around $7 million, the indictment states.
The 11-count indictment was returned in May, but for reasons not explained, was not opened until this week. It says Yarrington eventually became involved in the smuggling of drugs.
Like many politicians in Tamaulipas, Yarrington “abetted, enabled and profited from a symbiotic relationship with the Gulf Cartel,” said George Grayson, a Mexico expert at Virginia’s College of William & Mary.
Yarrington’s whereabouts are unknown, although his attorneys insisted this week that he is not a fugitive. The U.S. government has not yet formally sought his extradition. Mexican Atty. Gen. Jesus Murillo Karam said: “Whoever they ask us to look for, we will. They have had and will continue to have our cooperation.”
Yarrington’s Houston-based attorney, Joel Androphy, said in a news conference this week in Mexico City that the allegations against Yarrington were bogus and based on “false witnesses and testimony” by people attempting to make deals with the prosecution.
He refused to disclose Yarrington’s current location, except to repeat that he was in the United States a year ago when asked to leave because his visa had expired.
Accusations that Yarrington was receiving drug money first surfaced early last year, in connection with a U.S. case involving an associate, and then in a Mexican investigation. The PRI, in the middle of an election campaign, suspended him. Then-Atty. Gen. Marisela Morales ordered him arrested. But he managed to secure an injunction that left him free, and he threatened to take on the attorney general.
Yarrington was elected as a member of the PRI- the same political party that recently elected Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. During the 2012 election, the PRI party sought to distance itself from Yarrington and other corrupt politicians in Tamaulipas. Since 2006, the situation has become much more dire in Tamaulipas, with mass graves and the remnants of the Gulf Cartel fighting with their former allies, Los Zetas.