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Mexico extradites alleged Sinaloa cartel leader, assassin to United States

By Mike Heuer
Mexican law enforcement members stand guard during the arrest of Nestor Isidro Perez Salas in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, on Nov. 23. File Photo by Isaac Esquivel/EPA-EFE
1 of 2 | Mexican law enforcement members stand guard during the arrest of Nestor Isidro Perez Salas in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, on Nov. 23. File Photo by Isaac Esquivel/EPA-EFE

May 28 (UPI) -- The Mexican government extradited Nestor Isidro Perez Salas to the United States Saturday to face multiple felony charges, including murder, drug importation, kidnapping, firearms and money laundering.

The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced the extradition and indictment of Salas, 32, who also goes by "El Nini" and is the alleged leader of the Sinaloa cartel and its lead assassin, according to the DOJ.

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"El Nini was one of the Sinaloa cartel's lead sicarios, or assassins, and was responsible for the murder, torture and kidnapping of rivals and witnesses who threatened the cartel's criminal drug trafficking empire," the DOJ said.

Salas is accused of killing a Drug Enforcement Administration informant and others in retaliation for the informant cooperating with the DEA.

"We also allege El Nini was a part of the Sinaloa cartel's production and sale of fentanyl, including to the United States," the DOJ said.

The Mexican government agreed to extradite Salas after the DOJ secured federal indictments in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and in the Southern District of New York.

In the Washington, D.C., federal court, Salas is charged with importing cocaine and methamphetamine, firearms violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice through murder.

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He also is charged with continuing a criminal enterprise resulting in the deaths of numerous victims, including a DEA informant, in the Southern District of New York federal court.

The New York federal court indictment also charges Salas with fentanyl importation and trafficking; obstruction of justice by murdering an informant; kidnapping resulting in the deaths of eight people, including a minor; firearms violations and money laundering.

Mexican authorities arrested Salas in Culiacan, Mexico, on Nov. 22, and he was charged Tuesday morning in Southern District of New York federal court.

The DOJ says the Sinaloa cartel is one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels and responsible for a significant amount of fentanyl manufactured in Mexico and imported for distribution in the United States.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and is the leading cause of death for Americans between ages 18 and 49.

The DOJ says Salas is a senior leader of the Sinaloa cartel security apparatus that allegedly uses "rampant violence" to protect the cartel's operations, capture contested territory, destroy uncooperative businesses, intimidate civilians and kill law enforcement members.

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