January 16, 1996
Web posted at: 12:00 a.m. EST (0500 GMT)
From Mexico City Bureau Chief Lucia Newman and wire reports.
HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- One of the world's most notorious drug lords was deported from Mexico and flown to the United States Monday, in what is being hailed as a "major breakthrough" in the international war on drug traffickers.
Juan Garcia Abrego, a fugitive on the FBI's most-wanted list, was flown to Houston late Monday, following his arrest by Mexican police on Sunday. Garcia Abrego, the reputed head of Mexico's second most powerful drug cartel, had eluded authorities on both sides of the border for years. His arrest is an enormous victory for the U.S. and Mexican governments.
U.S. law enforcement sources say the 51-year-old Garcia Abrego runs the Gulf cartel. His operations have been significantly disrupted since the FBI added him to its "Ten Most Wanted" list last March.
Details of the arrest are still unclear. Just last year, Garcia Abrego tried to negotiate a conditional surrender. It was not immediately known if he turned himself in to authorities in Mexico.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Garcia Abrego had insisted on not being extradited to the United States, where he retains citizenship. The Mexican government has denied making any deals. U.S. law enforcement officials had offered $2 million for his capture.
According to the FBI, Garcia Abrego was responsible for bringing "multi-ton quantities of Colombian cocaine as well as marijuana" into the United States. The State Department said his cartel authorized "acts of violence, including murders".
The Gulf cartel, headquartered in the border city of Matamoros, is believed to smuggle hundreds of tons of Colombian cocaine into the United States each year by bribing Mexican officials. Garcia Abrego has allegedly been linked to several top Mexican officials, including Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
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