EL PASO, Texas - Shackled and in a red jumpsuit, an alleged Sinoloa Cartel leader who worked with jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman appeared before a federal judge in El Paso Friday.
ABC-7 first broke the news 47-year-old Arturo Urquidi was set to appear before a judge in El Paso's federal courthouse. Urquidi was extradited to the United States from Mexico for allegedly funneling "massive amounts" of marijuana and cocaine into the U.S.
Former US Marshal Robert Almonte told ABC-7 it takes a lot of teamwork to take a man like Urquidi into custody and then extradite him to the US. "I oversaw many extraditions of criminals that were in Mexico, but I can tell you this: the credit goes to Mexican authorities because they would not be found without their help and assistance," Almonte said, "I want people to know that it's not US law enforcement putting handcuffs on people. Those people are arrested and extradited to the US because of the cooperation of the Mexican government."
In a statement, the DOJ wrote that Urquidi is charged with one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO conspiracy), one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, one count of conspiracy to import into the United States five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering offenses and one count of conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
According to the indictment, Urquidi was responsible for the unloading and loading of cocaine, drug proceeds and firearms in Sinaloa Cartel warehouses in Juarez.
Law enforcement officials said Urquidi was one of two dozen alleged high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leaders, including the likes of Guzman, indicted on federal racketeering charges in April 2012.