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California Briefing / San Diego

3 cartel figures plead guilty

October 22, 2009|Richard Marosi

Three former lieutenants of Tijuana's Arellano Felix drug cartel have pleaded guilty to federal racketeering and conspiracy charges. Jorge Aureliano Felix, who agreed to forfeit $1 million, faces a potential a 30-year prison term for his role in the once-powerful organized crime group that shipped hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S.

Armando Martinez Duarte, a former federal police officer in Baja California, admitted protecting drug shipments and leaking information. Another lieutenant, Efrain Perez, pleaded guilty with Martinez last week. Aureliano pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

The top targets remaining in the case, alleged cartel leaders Benjamin Arellano Felix and his brother Eduardo, are in Mexican prisons. U.S. authorities are seeking their extradition.

-- Richard Marosi

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