Mexico Extradites Drug Cartel Leader Wanted in U.S. for 25 years; U.S. Sends Noriega to France

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Juan José Quintero Payán

Former drug kingpins have been on the move, with the United States playing both receiver and sender in two high-level extraditions.

After wanting for years to get their hands on Juan José Quintero Payán (aka Don Juanjo), U.S. law enforcement officials finally took into custody the former leader of the Carrillo Fuentes cartel from Juárez, Mexico. Accused of running a smuggling operation for more than two decades from Texas to New York, Quintero Payán, 68, faces federal racketeering, money laundering and drug-dealing charges.
Quintero Payán has been wanted by the United States since 1985, but wasn’t arrested by Mexican officials until 1999. An earlier extradition request was turned down in the early 2000s.
An even more notorious drug figure, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, was sent on Monday from the United States to France. Noriega had battled for six years to avoid being extradited, which came on the heels of his serving more than 20 years in a U.S. prison for drug trafficking and money laundering.
French officials convicted Noriega in absentia in 1999 for laundering money. He is expected to face a new trial. He had wanted to return to Panama following the conclusion of his American prison term, and Panamanian officials also sought custody of Noriega so he could serve time back home for his crimes.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Ex-Juárez Drug Cartel Leader Extradited to US (by Adriana Gómez Licón and Daniel Borunda, El Paso Times)
Noriega Arrives in France for Charges (by Scott Sayare, New York Times)


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