Explaining Mexico’s Decision to Extradite Alleged Drug Lords

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Mexico has extradited two alleged drug lords and nearly a dozen other suspected drug traffickers to the United States, a decision that was likely influenced by the escape of notorious kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman from a maximum-security prison in July. 

On September 30, Mexico extradited 13 suspected drug traffickers to face justice in the United States. Included in this group were Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie,” who led a faction of the splintered Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), and former Gulf Cartel head Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias “El Coss,” reported Reuters. (See below for a short profile of each of the 13 suspected drug traffickers.)

Many of those who were extradited had been in Mexican prisons for years. La Barbie and El Coss were both captured during the administration of former President Felipe Calderon.

The move has raised speculation that the Mexican government will be more willing to accomodate US extradition requests in the future. 

“My guess is they won’t be as inflexible as they were during the beginning of the administration [of current President Enrique Peña Nieto],” El Daily Post’s Alejandro Hope told InSight Crime. 

In 2013 — the first full year of the Peña Nieto administration — extraditions to the United States fell by more than half from the previous year.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extradition

The timing of the extraditions is noteworthy. Almost immediately following El Chapo’s arrest in February 2014, US authorities made it clear that they wanted the head of Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, the Sinaloa Cartel, to face justice in the United States. However, Mexican authorities insisted Guzman would first complete his sentence in Mexico.

But El Chapo escaped just 16 months after his capture by tunneling out of the maximum-security prison where he was being held, further straining the long and complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico on extradition.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico’s decision to extradite La Barbie and El Coss may very well have been a direct consequence of the diplomatic fallout that came as a result of the El Chapo episode. According to Hope, one of the principal objectives of the recent extraditions was to “mend the rift with the US that was born out of El Chapo’s escape.”

However, the timing of the extraditions was also impacted by procedural limitations. The extradition process for many of the suspects had been in the works long before El Chapo’s escape.

“There are legitimate reasons for those delays,” Hope told InSight Crime. “Some of those guys have fought extradition for a long time.”

Yet another possibility is that Mexican authorities are taking precautionary steps in order to avoid a public relations embarrassment similar to the one they endured following El Chapo’s escape. A total of 20 officials have been arrested in connection to the Chapo case, including two former directors of the Altiplano prison, the facility from which the drug lord escaped and where La Barbie and El Coss were being held. Given these circumstances, the Mexican government may have feared another high-profile escape was imminent. 

Extradited Suspects 

15-10-01-BarbieMugShot

Name: Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie”

Criminal Group/Role: Former leader of the BLO

Charges: Conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, money laundering

 

15-10-01-Coss

Name: Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias “El Coss”

Criminal Group/Role: Former leader of the Gulf Cartel

Charges: Cocaine and marijuana importation and distribution, money laundering, and threatening federal law enforcement officers

 

15-10-01-Kingery

Name: Jean Baptiste Kingery

Criminal Group/Role: Linked to Sinaloa Cartel and other criminal groups

Charges: Arms trafficking and illegal exportation of munitions and weapons material from the United States

 

15-10-01-Montemayor

Name: Carlos Montemayor Gonzalez, alias “El Director”

Criminal Group/Role: Father-in-law to La Barbie, member of the BLO

Charges: Drug trafficking and money laundering

 

15-10-01-Celis

Name: Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis, alias “Pack”

Criminal Group/Role: Barrio Azteca member, suspected of participating alongside Alberto Nuñez Payan and Ricardo Valles de la Rosa in the murders of a US consulate employee and two other US citizens

Charges: Drug trafficking, homicide, criminal conspiracy and illegal weapons possession 

 

15-10-01-Payan

Name: Alberto Nuñez Payan, alias “Fresa”

Criminal Group/Role: Barrio Azteca member, suspected of participating alongside Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis and Ricardo Valles de la Rosa in the murders of a US consulate employee and two other US citizens

Charges: Drug trafficking, homicide, criminal conspiracy and illegal weapons possession

 

15-10-01-Rosa

 

Name: Ricardo Valles de la Rosa, alias “Chino”

Criminal Group/Role: Barrio Azteca member, suspected of participating alongside Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis and Alberto Nuñez Payan in the murders of a US consulate employee and two other US citizens

Charges: Drug trafficking, homicide, criminal conspiracy and illegal weapons possession

 

15-10-01-MontoyaPea

Name: Aureliano Montoya Peña, alias “La Changa”

Criminal Group/Role: Linked to a Zetas drug trafficking cell in Chicago

Charges: Conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, multiple charges related to transporting drug proceeds between Chicago and Mexico

 

15-10-01-Elizalde

 

Name: Julio Cesar Valenzuela Elizalde, alias “El Piloto”

Criminal Group/Role: Part of a group of eight people suspected of trafficking methamphetamine to the United States

Charges: Conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine

 

15-10-01-DanielCastillo

 

Name: Martin Daniel Castillo Rascon

Criminal Group/Role: Unknown

Charges: Conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substance, conspiracy to import controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute

 

15-10-01-Gonzalez

 

Name: Antonio Reynoso Gonzalez, alias “El Ingeniero”

Criminal Group/Role: Linked to the Sinaloa Cartel

Charges: Conspiracy to import, possess and distribute cocaine

 

15-10-01-Platas

 

Name: Antonio Gonzalez Platas

Criminal Group/Role: Unknown

Charges: Rape

15-10-01-GarciaSota

Name: Jose Manuel Garcia Sota, alias “El Pelon”

Criminal Group/Role: Member of the Zetas suspected of murdering a US Immigration Services agent

Charges: Weapons possession, homicide

 

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