Feds: High-ranking Sinaloa Cartel member extradited to US to face charges in El Paso

Mexican authorities extradited Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo - a.k.a. Jaguar - to the United States so that he could face federal racketeering charges in the Western District of Texas.

Torres Marrufo was charged in an April 2012 RICO indictment alleging conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, money laundering and drug distribution, federal officials said. He remains in federal custody awaiting his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday morning in El Paso.

"The FBI El Paso Division is pleased with Mexico's efforts to bring to justice a leader from one of the most violent criminal enterprises that has terrorized the El Paso and Juarez area," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. "The cooperation between our two countries' law enforcement agencies is a powerful force in disrupting the Sinaloa Cartel Organization's criminal activities that instill fear and threaten the safety of our citizens."

In April 2012, Torres Marrufo was charged in the same federal grand jury indictment as Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia and 21 other individuals responsible for the operations and management of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

According to the indictment, the Sinaloa Cartel and its associates, including members of the Gente Nueva (New People) and the Artistas Asesinos (Artists Assaissins), kidnapped, tortured and murdered those who lose or steal assets belonging to the cartel, as well as those who are disloyal to the Cartel. Federal prosecutors said those targeted by the Sinaloa Cartel include members of the Juarez Cartel, a competing drug organization who at the time was led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, as well as its enforcement arm known as La Linea and the Barrio Aztecas.

The indictment references two acts of violence allegedly committed by members of the Sinaloa Cartel. First, the indictment alleges that in September 2009, Torres Marrufo conspired to kidnap and murder a Horizon City, Texas, resident. Specifically, Torres Marrufo ordered the kidnapping of the victim to answer for the loss of a 670-pound load of marijuana seized by Border Patrol at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint on Aug. 5, 2009. After the kidnapping, the victim was taken to Juarez where Torres Marrufo interrogated him and ordered that he be killed. On Sept. 8, 2009, the victim's mutilated body was discovered in Juarez.

Second, the indictment alleges that on May 7, 2010, Torres Marrufo conspired to kidnap and murder an American citizen and two members of his family. Torres Marrufo caused an individual in El Paso to travel to a wedding ceremony in Juarez to confirm the identity of a target. The target was the groom, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Columbus, New Mexico. Under Torres Marrufo's orders, the groom, his brother and his uncle were all kidnapped during the wedding ceremony and subsequently tortured and murdered. Their bodies were discovered by Juarez police a few days later in the bed of an abandoned pickup truck. Additionally, a fourth person was killed during the kidnapping at the wedding ceremony.

The investigation into Torres Marrufo resulted in the seizure of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, and thousands of pounds of marijuana in cities throughout the U.S. Law enforcement also took possession of millions of dollars in drug proceeds which were destined to be returned to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. Agents and officers also seized hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition intended to be smuggled into Mexico to assist the Sinaloa Cartel's battle to take control of one of the key drug trafficking corridors used to bring drugs into the U.S.

Upon conviction, Marrufo faces up to life in federal prison. 

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