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News Release [print-friendly page]
January 22, 2007

Karen P. Tandy
Media Conference Call
Extradition of 15 Mexican Criminals
Washington, D.C.
January 22, 2007 1:30 p.m.

Number of violent Mexican criminals extradited: 15
Distance and time traveled to get them here: 750 miles and 2 hours
Number of Mexican drug cartels impacted: 4

U.S. and Mexican victory against powerful drug syndicates: priceless.

15 of the world’s most violent and ruthless criminals were escorted in handcuffs off planes in Houston Friday night. Most were major drug traffickers. Many were long-term targets of the United States. All now face their worst fear: U.S. justice.

These extraditions are unprecedented in the history of Mexico. It was a clean sweep—those extradited include leaders from all 4 of Mexico’s major drug cartels:

  • a gatekeeper who controlled drug smuggling across the border for the Juarez cartel;

  • 2 top echelon lieutenants of the Tijuana cartel;

  • the kingpin of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas-Guillen; and

  • 2 high-level lieutenants, 2 mid-level lieutenants, and both a high and mid-level transportation coordinator for the Federation.

Did we get all of Mexico’s major drug traffickers? Not yet. But this past weekend, the U.S. and Mexico took an enormous leap forward, particularly with the extradition of Mexican drug kingpin Osiel Cardenas-Guillen. For the past 8 years, he commanded one of the most brutal and powerful drug cartels in the world. For the last 4 of those years he did so from a Mexican prison. Today we put an end to his reign of terror.

Cardenas-Guillen’s organization controls one of the major transit corridors across the Southwest Border into south Texas. At his orders, his lieutenants smuggled multi-hundred kilogram quantities of cocaine into neighborhoods all across this nation. Ironically, Cardenas-Guillen was a former Mexican federal police officer who betrayed the public trust and exploited that knowledge to protect his organization.

Violence, intimidation, and murder are his stock in trade. His brazen contempt for anybody who got in his way was demonstrated in late 1999, when, in broad daylight at a major traffic intersection in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, Cardenas-Guillen, armed with his trademark gold-plated .45, and 10-15 of his henchman brandishing automatic weapons surrounded the car of a DEA agent and an FBI agent. After a tense standoff, our brave agents talked their way out of certain death.

Others weren’t so lucky. Throughout his notorious rise to power, Cardenas-Guillen authorized the murder of countless rivals. He killed his way up the ladder to lead the Gulf cartel he commanded until 3 days ago.

On behalf of the DEA, I have one last thing to say to these 15 criminals: Welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives.

Attorney General's Statement >>

Map of Cartel Areas of Influence >>

More Photos >>

Extradition video >>


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