In a surprise move, Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the former leader of Mexican drug trafficking group the Beltran Leyva Organization, was extradited to the United States six years after his capture, even as Sinaloa Cartel leader Chapo Guzman remains in the hands of Mexico authorities.
Following an extended legal battle to remain in Mexico, on November 15, Alfredo, alias “El Mochomo” was extradited to the United States, the US Department of Justice announced. On November 17, Beltran Leyva pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking in a federal court in Washington, reported the Associated Press.
Beltran Leyva’s legal team reportedly fought his extradition request from the United States by filing a type of appeal, known as an “amparo,” which shifts the burden of proof to the state and often delays extradition processes for months or even years. However, the amparo was rejected in October 2013 and one month later Mexican authorities agreed to extradite the alleged drug kingpin, reported CNN Mexico.
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The extradition of Beltran Leyva six years after his capture suggests relations between Mexico and its northern neighbor remain strong, despite a tense political climate between the two countries. For years, it remained doubtful if Beltran Leyva — who reportedly continued to run the operations of his organization while in prison — would ever be extradited.
The volatile history of US-Mexico relations surrounding extraditions goes back to the mid 1980s. In 1985, Mexico denied the US’s request to extradite major drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero, suspected of being involved in the torture and killing of a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer. Quintero’s early release from a Mexican prison in August 2013 was strongly criticized by the United States, and further complicated US-Mexico relations. These ongoing tensions are considered to be a principal factor in why drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has yet to be extradited to the United States following his capture in February.
Alfredo Beltran Leyva is a former head of drug trafficking group the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), along with his brothers Arturo and Hector, alias “El H”. El Chapo Guzman is believed to have given information leading to Alfredo Beltran Leyva’s arrest in 2008, leading to a fall-out between two criminal cartels that had previously worked together to traffic vast quantities of drugs to the United States. During the ensuing feud, the BLO allied themselves with the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel with the Gulf Cartel and Familia Michoacana.
SEE ALSO: BLO News and Profile
The bloody war with the Sinaloa Cartel and the killing of Arturo Beltran Leyva by Mexican marines in 2009 significantly weakened the BLO. While there have been signs of a resurgence, the capture of the last remaining Beltran Leyva brother, Hector, in October 2014 left another serious void in the organization’s leadership.