SAN DIEGO (AP) — An alleged drug trafficker was extradited from Mexico on Thursday to face charges in San Diego that he oversaw efforts to bring methamphetamine to the U.S., authorities said.
Cesar Alfredo Meza Garcia, 36, is one of the first people to be extradited from Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office Dec. 1.
Pena Nieto's predecessor, Felipe Calderon, embraced extraditions as he launched an offensive against drug cartels that shaped his presidency. His administration said it extradited 502 people from Dec. 1, 2006, to the end of 2011, including 478 to the United States.
"We're hoping (Pena Nieto) will continue what President Calderon started," said Tim Durst, assistant special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit in San Diego. "It's wait-and-see. This is a good sign."
U.S. authorities seized more than 200 pounds of methamphetamine and 100 pounds of cocaine during a 20-month investigation that ended in May, ICE said. The drugs were mostly hidden in cars and trucks and strapped to bodies at San Diego border crossings.
The investigation began when authorities stopped a car with 48 pounds of methamphetamine that crossed the border in San Diego and was headed to Los Angeles, Durst said.
U.S. authorities described Meza Garcia as a top figure in the Tijuana cartel, made of the remnants of the once-powerful Arellano Felix family. Secretly recorded phone conversations featured repeated references to "The Engineer," as cartel leader Fernando Sanchez Arellano is known.
Meza Garcia was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana in September and is the highest-ranking target in an investigation that has led to federal charges against nearly three dozen people in San Diego. So far, 21 have been sentenced to prison.
The extradition comes amid a spike in methamphetamine seizures at U.S. border crossings. In California, border inspectors confiscated 9,735 pounds of the drug during the 2012 fiscal year, up 33 percent from a year earlier and nearly five times the amount seized in 2008.
Meza Garcia was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Friday on a charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
Whether you love the one liners or you watch for the awkward situations, of which there are plenty, TruTV’s “Impractical Jokers” has guaranteed laughs every Thursday. Sal Vulcano, and show’s three other featured comedians, have brought their comedic talents to San Diego.
The man who sang "Land Down Under" first in 1981, Men At Work’s Colin Hay joined News 8 Morning Extra on Thursday to talk about his journey as a solo act, which has brought him to the Belly Up in Solana Beach this weekend.
Some San Diego-area firefighters were in Mariposa County Thursday helping to battle a wildfire that has burned more than 70,000 acres and destroyed 29 structures over the last few days.
O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel-room heist, successfully making his case for freedom in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America's enduring fascination with the former football star.
Rainbow residents are upset with the huge increase in traffic which they are blaming on GPS apps like Waze that re-routes commuters off the busy Interstate-15 right into their rural neighborhood.
Halle Barry, Colin Firth and Will Smith will be among the big-screen stars appearing at the San Diego Convention Center Thursday on the opening day of Comic-Con International, an annual celebration of pop culture.
You recognize her face from popular shows like “The Talk’, “Criminal Minds” and “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”, and you’ll recognize her voice from the hit cartoon “Archer”.
Youngsters in Chula Vista are taking to the stage Thursday for the semifinals of the city’s premier talent competition.
Brooks Koepka hasn't missed a beat since winning the U.S. Open last month. On Thursday, he barely missed a shot as he used an eagle on the 17th hole to shoot 5-under-65 and move into a tie for the lead with Jordan Spieth in the British Open.
A wanted man in a stolen car led law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase from Santee to La Mesa, sheriff's officials said Thursday.