A Mexican state's top law enforcement official has been accused of conspiring to smuggle and sell heroin, cocaine and other drugs, after he was arrested by U.S. agents this week in San Diego. According to an arrest warrant, Nayarit state Attorney General Edgar Veytia used the name "Diablo" and other aliases.
U.S. prosecutors say they'll seek to compel Veytia to forfeit some $250 million if he's convicted.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Veytia at the Cross Border Xpress airport terminal, a transit point that links San Diego to the Tijuana airport. A warrant for his arrest was issued March 2 on the basis of a sealed indictment.
In that now-unsealed indictment, the U.S. says Veytia used aliases such as "Diablo," "Eepp" and "Lic veytia" as he worked with a criminal enterprise to manufacture and distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. The document accuses Veytia of crimes dating from January 2013 to last month.
From Mexico City, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports:
"Veytia has been the top law enforcement official of the Pacific Mexican state of Nayarit since 2013. Allegations of the attorney general's ties to the rising Jalisco New Generation cartel have long been raised in the Mexican press.
"Nayarit's governor told the national Milenio newpaper he was surprised at the arrest, given the low crime rate in the state."
The FBI says the arrest stems from a joint investigation that also involved the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations.
Here are the minimum amounts of each drug the indictment accuses Veytia of dealing with:
- 1 kilogram of heroin
- 5 kilograms of cocaine
- 500 grams of methamphetamine
- 1,000 kilograms of marijuana
We'll remind you that a kilogram is equivalent to roughly 2.2 pounds.
Veytia is named in at least two federal court documents, including one in New York, where he was indicted on three counts of conspiracy to sell, import or export, and distribute narcotics, and another in California, where he was arraigned this week.
The state attorney general's case is drawing international attention at a time when Mexico's state executives have been targeted by corruption probes. Two former governors who recently left office are currently considered to be fugitives.
Earlier this week, the governor of Chihuahua said an arrest warrant had been issued for his predecessor as part of an embezzlement inquiry. The state is reportedly asking both the U.S. and Interpol for help in apprehending César Duarte, whom they believe fled to El Paso, Texas.
And since last October, the former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, has been on the run, accused of racketeering and money-laundering. His oil-rich state is also where more than 250 bodies were found in a mass grave that has been linked to drug cartels.