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2 Brothers in Mexico Are Indicted on Drug Charges

June 19, 1998|KEN ELLINGWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — A federal grand jury issued fresh indictments against two brothers in Mexico suspected of running a global methamphetamine operation, authorities said Thursday.

U.S. prosecutors said they would seek extradition of the brothers, Jesus and Luis Amezcua Contreras, who are already in custody in Mexico on separate charges filed by authorities there.

The two were previously indicted in San Diego and Los Angeles, but the new indictments carry more severe charges and possible life sentences, authorities said. The brothers are charged with conspiracy to make and distribute methamphetamine and possess ephedrine, a chemical used to make the drug, and running a criminal enterprise.

"This supersedes the [previous] charges and puts the slam dunk on them," said a Drug Enforcement Agency official.

The latest indictments grew from a four-year investigation. It charges that the brothers imported ephedrine from suppliers in Europe, India and China, and made methamphetamine in laboratories in Mexico and Southern California. They coordinated sales of the drugs, the indictment says.

The DEA official said prospects for trying the brothers in the United States are promising because Mexican authorities appear eager to extradite them. If so, they would be the first accused drug lords who are Mexican citizens to be extradited to the United States.

Luis Amezcua, 34, was charged in Los Angeles as part of a methamphetamine production ring in 1994. Jesus, 32, was charged in San Diego in 1993 on cocaine charges.

However, the two, who were indicted on Mexican drug trafficking and money-laundering charges last year, were not arrested until earlier this month by Mexican authorities. A judge has since thrown out all but the laundering charges.

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