AFO/FSO cartel leader Villareal charged for racketeering and drug trafficking
Continuing its methodical dismantling of the Arellano Felix (drug cartel) Organization (AFO) and Fernando Sanchez-Arellano Organizations (FSO), today the U.S. arraigned Armando Villareal Heredia, aka Gordo Villareal for federal racketeering (RICO) as well as drug-related charges. Lead defendant, Villareal plead not guilty to all the charges and was assigned Public Defender, Robert Rexrode to represent him at next week’s detention hearing. The notable FSO cartel member faces charges along with 43 others in the Southern District of California. Villareal was successfully extradited from the Republic of Mexico to the United States in order to stand trial for the ongoing investigation that began in July of 2010. Mexican law enforcement officers arrested Villareal on July 9, 2011 at the request of the United States where he has remained in custody pending his extradition to San Diego. According to the indictment, Villareal was one of the top leaders of this criminal organization, which evolved from the now-defunct AFO and is headed by the nephew of Benjamin and Javier Arellano-Felix. Advertisement “Today’s extradition of Villareal, a top-lieutenant in the FSO who answered directly to Fernando Sanchez Arellano, highlights our continued successful efforts to work with the government of Mexico to combat organized criminal activity along the southwest border,” United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy said. So far 38 defendants have entered guilty pleas and admitted their participation in violent transnational Fernando Sanchez-Arellano drug cartel practices including, murders, kidnappings, robberies, assaults, money laundering and numerous drug trafficking offenses. Earlier this year, when Benjamin Arellano-Felix was led out of the courtroom Duffy said it was the perfect ending for the drug cartel leader who’s responsible for murder and mayhem often associated with drug cartels. Court records and the defendant’s confession confirmed, Arellano-Felix lead the AFO drug cartel from 1986 to March 2002. Prosecutors provided evidence that the cartel’s decision maker Arellano-Felix, ordered numerous crimes against Mexican and Americans who were involved in the drug trade. Attorneys for the government contend under Arellano-Felix’s leadership the CEO ordered directives to top AFO organization lieutenants, including his brothers, Ramon, Eduardo, and Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix. “The Tijuana Cartel was one of the world’s most brutal drug trafficking networks, but has now met its demise with leader Benjamin Arellano-Felix’s sentencing,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “It is a major victory for DEA and Mexico’s Calderon Administration. Together, we will continue our pressure on the Mexican cartels whose leaders, members, and facilitators will be prosecuted and face the justice they fear.” Duffy said four defendants remain fugitives while another remains in custody and is scheduled for trial on June 5, 2012. In a statement she also praised the Mexican government for their assistance in the extradition of Villareal. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) coordinated the multi-agency Operation Luz Verde. Agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); San Diego Police Department; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); San Diego Sheriff’s Office; Chula Vista Police Department; U.S. Marshals Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE); San Diego District Attorney’s Office; and California Department of Justice participated in this OCDETF investigation. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources to fight against organized crime and major drug trafficking organizations. “The indictment in this case resulted from a long-term investigation conducted by the multi-agency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force (CBVTF). The CBVTF was formed to target those individuals involved in organized crime-related violent activities affecting both the United States and Mexico. Law enforcement personnel assigned to the CBVTF made extensive use of court-authorized wiretaps and other sophisticated investigative techniques to develop the significant evidence which led to the charges in this case,” Duffy said. United States Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes remanded Villareal to custody until next week’s detention hearing. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.