Mexico has extradited Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, a suspected senior member of the infamous Zetas drug cartel, to the United States to stand trial on drug smuggling charges and several other criminal offenses, media reports citing officials said late on Tuesday.
Rejon Aguilar, also known as 'El Mamito,' was arrested in the Mexico City suburb of Atizapan in July 2011 in an operation carried out the Mexican security forces. A police officer who was traveling along with Rejon to ensure the gangster's safe passage through the area was also arrested in the operation.
Rejon is accused of smuggling large quantities of marijuana and cocaine to the United States. He is also wanted by U.S. authorities for his alleged involvement in a February 14, 2011 attack in San Luis Potosi state that left the U.S. agent Jaime Zapata dead and left his partner Victor Avila seriously wounded.
He was reportedly handed over by Mexican authorities to officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Tuesday. Incidentally, the DEA had earlier offered a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to Rejon's capture.
Rejon is said to be one of the founding members of the dreaded Zetas drug cartel, which was formed by former Mexican special forces soldiers. Rejon, a former elite soldier, had deserted the Army in 1999 to join the violent gang. He is believed to be third in the the hierarchy of command of the Zetas.
The Zetas initially served as hit-men and armed enforcers for the powerful Gulf cartel. But they later split from their employers and extended their activities to include drug trafficking, kidnappings and extortion.
The Zetas are now considered to be one of the most ruthless drug gangs in Mexico. They are currently engaged in a violent turf war with the Gulf cartel. The two cartels are largely blamed for most of the recent drug-related violence in eastern Mexico and the northern border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
At the time of Rejon's capture, it was seen as a significant achievement of the Mexican government in its relentless battle against drug cartels. Mexico is currently struggling to contain the violence unleashed by rival drug cartels, mainly in the northern and western states, as they fight for control of lucrative smuggling routes to the United States.
The Mexican government says that more than 45,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the country since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug gangs after taking office in December 2006.
Besides fighting drug cartels, Calderon has launched a massive anti-corruption drive named 'Operation Clean-up' to identify and punish public servants having links with drug cartels.
Calderon will now be succeeded by Enrique Pena Nieto, who has been confirmed as winner in the July 1 Presidential elections. In the wake of the escalating drug-related violence in Mexico, Nieto has hired the services of former Director of Colombia's police force, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, to tackle the menace.
by RTT Staff Writer
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