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Suspected Mexican Cartel Leader Arrested, Extradited to the U.S.


February 1996

Mexican federal police arrested suspected drug cartel kingpin Juan Garcia-Abrego on January 14 (John Ward Anderson, "Alleged Drug Kingpin Arrested in Mexico," Washington Post, January 16, 1996, p. A11).

Abrego was wanted in the U.S. for his alleged role in serving as a middleman for shipments of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S. In March 1995 Abrego was added to the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" List. He is considered by police to be the head of the "Gulf Cartel," which police say handles one-third of the cocaine shipped through Mexico (see "FBI Adds International Drug Dealer to 'Most-Wanted' List," NewsBriefs, April 1995, p. 8).

Acting on a tip, police arrested Abrego at a Monterrey, Mexico restaurant. One day after his arrest, Abrego was flown to Houston. A grand jury there indicted him in 1993 for his alleged role in cocaine shipment.

Bob Weiner, director of public affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called Abrego's capture an "important ... signal that international cooperation can break the formerly impenetrable shield held by narco-traffickers."

Drug Enforcement Administration officials estimate that half of the cocaine used in the U.S. is shipped through Mexico.