SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly a year after a top drug cartel lieutenant was arrested in Mexico, the U.S.-born man is back on American soil to face federal racketeering and drug charges, according to federal prosecutors.
Armando Villareal Heredia is the lead defendant in a 43-defendant prosecution against the Fernando Sanchez-Arellano Organization, a drug cartel, and was in the custody of American officials, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy announced Wednesday.
He was extradited from Mexico Wednesday and is expected to face a hearing in federal court Thursday.
Also known as Gordo Villareal, the top cartel lieutenant was arrested by Mexican law enforcement July 9, 2011, in the northern city of Hermosillo, at the request of U.S. officials.
Mexican and U.S. authorities say Villareal takes orders directly from Fernando Sanchez Arellano, also known as "The Engineer," a drug kingpin who is the leader of a younger but weaker Tijuana cartel.
U.S. officials say Sanchez's criminal organization is an offshoot of the defunct Arellano Felix cartel, whose domination of Tijuana was fictionally portrayed in the Hollywood movie "Traffic."
Sanchez, who is in his 30s, is a nephew of the four Arellano Felix brothers who have been either killed or arrested since 2006.
To date, 38 defendants have pleaded guilty in the current case, admitting to murders, kidnappings, robberies, assaults, money launder and drug trafficking.
Four defendants are fugitives and another is due for trial June 5.
This is a story update. A previous story is below.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - One of the top lieutenants of the Fernando Sanchez-Arellano Organization, which is believed responsible for murders, abductions and a wide range of drug-trafficking offenses, was expected to be arraigned in San Diego federal court Thursday after his extradition from Mexico to face federal drug and racketeering charges.
Armando Villareal Heredia, aka Gordo Villareal, is the lead defendant in a 43-defendant racketeering prosecution against the FSO, according to court documents.
Villareal, 33, was arrested by Mexican law enforcement officers last July 9 at the request of the United States and remained in custody in Mexico until his extradition.
According to an indictment, Villareal was one of the top leaders of the FSO, which evolved from the now-defunct Arellano-Felix Organization.
World TeamTennis has relocated its corporate headquarters from New York to Southern California in order to be closer to tech companies that can help the league improve its digital presence.
A San Diego couple says they are heartbroken after their family pet was attacked by another dog at a park in Allied Gardens over the weekend. The couple's dog is in critical condition and News 8 has learned this isn’t the first incident at the park involving the same dogs.
The City of Santee has formed a new committee to tackle issues stemming from highway 52. Residents say ever since the extension from the 125 to the 67 opened several years ago traffic in the city has gotten steadily worse.
Investigators say 54-year-old Peter Chadwick killed his wife back in 2012 and disappeared while he was free on bond in 2015. Now they're hoping a new reward and podcast series will help lead to his capture.
A pod of whales put on a show at La Jolla Cove. The five orcas came within 30 feet of the lifeguard tower area Wednesday.
Six more women may be victims of sexual assault by a prominent orthopedic surgeon who was featured in a TV reality dating show, and his girlfriend, authorities said Wednesday.
Temperatures continue to cool through Friday, warmer Saturday through the weekend. Humid in the deserts due to tropical moisture surge, decreasing through the weekend.
A judge in Pasadena on Wednesday dismissed 10 felony charges against a so-called "Dine-and-Dash Dater" who was accused of walking out on checks while on first dates with numerous women at Southland restaurants.