Archive for Friday, August 18, 2006

Suspected drug kingpin pleads not guilty

August 18, 2006

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— Suspected drug kingpin Francisco Javier Arellano Felix pleaded not guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges Thursday after arriving on U.S. soil in a Coast Guard boat and being whisked to a downtown jail under heavy security.

Arellano Felix did not speak during the brief hearing. His court-appointed attorney, Leila Morgan, pleaded not guilty on his behalf to racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to import and distribute controlled substances, and money laundering.

Arellano Felix, 36, had been captured Monday on a sport boat in international waters with seven other men, including Arturo Villarreal Heredia, who U.S. authorities said was probably his second-in-command.

"There is no discernible leader left to fill the void" in the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel, said John Fernandes, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego office. "I don't consider this organization disrupted. I consider this organization defunct."

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