Tags: U.S. | Pleased | With | Arrest | Major | Mexican | Drug

U.S. Pleased With Arrest of Major Mexican Drug Smuggler

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM

"He was not as famous, did not have the glamour – if we can call it that – of others, but he is and was very important in handling cocaine," Defense Secretary Gerardo Vega told reporters after Quintero Meraz's arrest Sunday. "When he was captured, he himself spoke of moving about a ton, and a ton and a half [of cocaine] every month."

The San Diego Union-Tribune said Tuesday that Quintero Meraz operated a large-scale smuggling operation on behalf of the Gulf cartel that moved cocaine from Guatemala into Mexico and then to the U.S. border near McAllen, Texas, often stashed inside gasoline tanker trucks, where it would be unloaded and brought into the U.S. in vehicles fitted with hidden compartments.

The alleged leader of the Gulf cartel, Oziel Cardenas-Guillen, was named in a superceding indictment last month in Texas and remained a federal fugitive. The indictment charged the cartel with distributing tons of cocaine and marijuana throughout eastern Texas and in Georgia and Chicago.

"Additionally, payments of money or gifts were allegedly made to various persons related to Mexican law enforcement to solicit information and obtain protection for the organization's criminal activities," said the U.S. attorney's office in Houston.

A law enforcement source told the Union-Tribune that Quintero Meraz has "been a big-time player in the cocaine trade for years."

Quintero Meraz's apprehension was the latest in a series of arrests of major drug traffickers made by the Mexican government, including the stunning arrest of Benjamin Arellano Felix, one of the leaders of a notorious Tijuana smuggling cartel.

Jorge Chabat, an expert on narcotics policy at a Mexico City think tank, told the Union-Tribune that the arrest of Quintero Meraz would probably not have a long-term effect on the flow of drugs into the United States, but it was an encouraging sign that the Mexican government was still forging ahead with its crackdown on trafficking and could lead to further arrests.

"The fact that there is a new government has probably affected the networks of corruption formed by the old regime," said Chabat. "There is also a cascading effect when you arrest a major trafficker. If that guy talks, then you can have more arrests."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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He was not as famous, did not have the glamour -if we can call it that -of others, but he is and was very important in handling cocaine, Defense Secretary Gerardo Vega told reporters after Quintero Meraz's arrest Sunday. When he was captured, he himself spoke of moving...
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2002-00-28
Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM
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