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Two accused 'El Chapo' associates extradited to U.S. on drug charges

The Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in nearly the entire United States.

By Andrew V. Pestano
1/7
Two accused 'El Chapo' associates extradited to U.S. on drug charges
Pedro Alejandro Rubio Pérez and César Gastelum Serrano, accused members of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel, have been extradited to the United States to face drug-smuggling charges. Photo courtesy of Procuraduría General de la República

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Two accused members of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel have been extradited to the United States to face drug-smuggling charges.

Pedro Alejandro Rubio Pérez and César Gastelum Serrano were taken from different detention centers and transported to Mexico City's Toluca International Airport, where they were handed over to U.S. authorities, Mexico's Attorney General's Office said.

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The extradition was carried out through the authorization of a former treaty signed by the U.S. Department of State and Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rubio Pérez, 49, was arrested in November 2013 on drug and organized crime charges while Gastelum Serrano, 47, was arrested in Cancun in April.

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Gastelum Serrano -- also known as "La Señora" -- was placed on the U.S. Department of Treasury's Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act list in 2014, calling him "one of the most prolific cocaine suppliers for Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel." He is accused of heading "a cocaine trafficking organization capable of moving tons of cocaine per week through Honduras and Guatemala to Mexico."

Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel is credited with dominating the illegal drug market in nearly the entire United States, a recent report by the Drug Enforcement Administration says.

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On July 11, Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum security prison for the second time using a mile-long tunnel, which could have taken a year to build. During the investigation into Guzman's escape, authorities first looked into which Altiplano prison workers were complicit in the crime before expanding the search further to civilian suspects.

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"El Chapo" -- meaning "The Short One" or "shorty" -- so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and then extradited to Mexico to face murder and drug trafficking charges. He escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards, and was re-captured in February 2014.

In October, an unedited leaked video of Guzman's escape shed further light into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the prison break.

Mexican television channel Televisa broadcasted the CCTV footage of Guzman's escape, the longer version of a video authorities previously released but without sound and only showing the moments before Guzman disappeared.

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