EL PASO, Texas, July 16 (UPI) -- Arturo Lozano Méndez, a former Ciudad Juárez police officer and the suspected manager of the Sinaloa Cartel's drug warehouses in the border city, was scheduled to appear in U.S. federal court Monday in El Paso, Texas.
But Lozano refused to attend, waiving his right to an arraignment and a bond hearing. His defense attorney, Carlos Spector, said the court appointed him to Lozano's defense last week. Instead of appearing in court, Lozano took the opportunity to meet his defense lawyer and will remain in detention until his case goes to trial in November.
U.S. and Mexican authorities had been hunting for Lozano since he was indicted along with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán and two dozen other members of the Sinaloa Cartel in 2012. Lozano was extradited from Mexico to the United States through Ciudad Juárez 10 days ago.
"The extradition of Arturo Lozano-Mendez shows that Mexico's continued cooperation in targeting significant drug traffickers is critical to our mutual efforts to protect the public from the negative impact of the drug trade," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Kyle Williamson in a press release Friday announcing Lozano's extradition.
Lozano, 47, was to be arraigned Monday in El Paso on charges of racketeering, drug distribution, international drug trafficking, money laundering and possessing firearms. By waiving his right to pre-trial hearings, Lozano's case will proceed to trial in November. John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas said Lozano faces life in prison.
Many of the alleged Sinaloa Cartel's top-tier drug traffickers have pleaded guilty or delayed their court appearances to find out how Guzman's trial will proceed. Mexican news outlet El Imparcial has reported many of his associates want to testify against him as key witnesses rather than as co-defendants and have avoided court appearances.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan for the Eastern District of New York agreed to push back Guzman's trial, scheduling it for November because government prosecutors failed to disclose to the drug kingpin's defense attorneys thousands of pages and hours of recordings collected as evidence.
Court documents allege Lozano is closely associated with Guzman's closest associate, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a fugitive and current alleged leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. In January 2017 the Mexican government extradited Guzman to the United States and Zambada took over the running of the cartel.
The indictment against Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel describes how the organization supplied money and arms to attack their rivals, the Juárez Cartel, from 2007 to 2012. Guzman's lieutenants sought to gain control over the valuable drug-smuggling routes to the United States through Ciudad Juárez.
The ensuing turf war between the rival cartels and the Mexican armed forces turned Ciudad Juárez, just across the river from El Paso, into a bloodbath, making it one of the world's most dangerous cities from 2007 to 2012. In 2010 when the violence reached its peak in Ciudad Juárez, 3,116 people were killed.