SAN DIEGO–A lead defendant in Operation Luz Verde was extradited from Mexico to face federal charges in the United States.
Armando Villareal Heredia, aka Gordo Villareal, was successfully extradited from the Republic of Mexico to the United States, according to federal officials. Heredia was also face 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 (FSO) 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.
“Today’s extradition of Villareal, a top-lieutenant in the FSO who answered directly to Fernando Sanchez Arellano, highlights our continued successful efforts to work with the government of Mexico to combat organized criminal activity along the southwest border,” United States Attorney Duffy stated. 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.