Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Announces Extradition of High-Ranking Drug Cartel Member

Suspected Sinaloa Criminal Enterprise Member to Face State Drug and Money Laundering Charges

Phoenix, AZ (Wednesday, April 3, 2013) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced today the extradition of Rafael Enrique Araiza, a citizen of Mexico and high-ranking drug cartel member, from Mexico City to Tucson through efforts of his office and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). 

“The Attorney General’s Office created a task force over a year ago for foreign extraditions of criminals with the United States Marshals service, who have been doing an outstanding job,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.  “As a result, the USMS worked alongside the Attorney General’s Office to locate this fugitive, and bring him back to Arizona to face criminal charges.”

Araiza, along with 17 other defendants, were indicted on November 23, 2010 by a grand jury on a 65-count indictment including charges involving illegally conducting a drug enterprise, money laundering, and unlawful use of wire communication.  Various defendants have been convicted, but Araiza, one of the two cell leaders, was never apprehended in the United States and escaped to Mexico.

In a successful investigation by the Tucson Police Department, a major illegal drug trafficking organization was uncovered, and Araiza identified as the head of the operation. He organized the importation of marijuana into the United States through unsecured and unguarded corridors along the Mexico/U.S. border located just south of San Miguel, Arizona. Once in the U.S., the drugs were sold and distributed throughout southern Arizona and Nevada.  Araiza also organized the smuggling of drug proceeds, concealed in hidden compartments in vehicles, back into Mexico through U.S. ports of entry.

Araiza was arrested on November 3, 2012 in Mexico by a provisional arrest warrant prepared by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and a Federal Court in Mexico City. The successful extradition was due to the approval by the Department of Justice and Federal Court in Mexico City of the extradition packet prepared by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The packet explained the case with supporting affidavits including those from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the Tucson Police Department ad from other witnesses – all which had to be approved by the Arizona State Courts.

Araiza will be arraigned this week in the Pima County Courthouse.