Extradited: Armando Villareal, Leader of International Drug Trafficking Cartel
May 23 (San Diego, CA) – Today Acting Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration William R. Sherman and United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced that Armando Villareal Heredia, aka Gordo Villareal, was successfully extradited from Mexico to the United States to face federal racketeering and drug charges in the Southern District of California.
According to court documents, Villareal is the lead defendant in a 43-defendant racketeering prosecution against the Fernando Sanchez-Arellano Organization which has been ongoing in the Southern District of California since July 2010.
Villareal was arrested by Mexican law enforcement officers on July 9, 2011, at the request of the United States. Since his arrest in Mexico, Villareal has remained in custody pending extradition to the United States.
According to the indictment, Villareal was one of the top leaders of this criminal organization, which evolved from the now-defunct Arellano-Felix Organization and is headed by the nephew of Benjamin and Javier Arellano-Felix.
To date, 38 defendants have entered guilty pleas in the case. During those guilty pleas, the defendants admitted to participating in a violent transnational racketeering enterprise controlled by Fernando Sanchez-Arellano, and to committing murders, kidnappings, robberies, assaults, money laundering and a wide range of drug trafficking offenses.
Four defendants are fugitives and the only other remaining in-custody defendant is scheduled for trial on June 5, 2012.
The indictment in this case resulted from a long-term investigation conducted by the multi-agency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force (CBVTF). The CBVTF was formed to target those individuals involved in organized crime-related violent activities affecting both the United States and Mexico. Law enforcement personnel assigned to the CBVTF made extensive use of court-authorized wiretaps and other sophisticated investigative techniques to develop the significant evidence which led to the charges in this case.
United States Attorney Duffy praised the Mexican government for their assistance in the extradition of Villareal. She also commended the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the coordinated team effort in handling this investigation, Operation Luz Verde. Agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Office, Chula Vista Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, San Diego District Attorney’s Office, and California Department of Justice participated in this OCDETF investigation. The defendant is expected to be in federal court in San Diego tomorrow, May 24, 2012, at 10:30 a.m., before United States Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes.
Summary of Charges