Mexican cartel member facing US drug conspiracy charges

CHICAGO (AP) — An alleged high-ranking member of the Mexican drug cartel Beltran-Leyva was brought to Chicago to face charges that he helped manufacture and import cocaine into the United States, federal prosecutors revealed Monday.

Geronimo Gamez-Garcia, who has been in custody in Mexico since 2017, was brought to Chicago last week. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sunil Harjani on Thursday, court records show.

Prosecutors allege that from 2015 to 2017, Gamez-Garcia conspired with two others, identified in the indictment as Individual A and Individual B, to manufacture and import large quantities of cocaine into the United States from Mexico.

Gamez-Garcia was arrested in the Mexican state of Morelos in November 2017, and his legal effort to prevent his extradition was denied earlier this year.

Gamez-Garcia is a cousin of former cartel kingpin Arturo Beltran-Leyva and acted as the organization’s logistics chief. Beltran-Leyva was killed in a firefight with Mexican authorities in 2009 before he could be brought to the U.S. to face narcotics trafficking charges.

The indictment of Gamez-Garcia is the latest case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago against leaders of Mexico’s drug cartels, which allegedly funnel tons of drugs through the city. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, was also indicted in Chicago but was tried in New York, where he was sentenced to life in prison last year.

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