Suspected Criminal Enterprise Member to Face State Drug and Money Laundering Charges
Phoenix, AZ (Wednesday, August 7, 2013) – Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced today the extradition of legal permanent resident Raul Ernesto Esquivel, a suspected drug trafficking criminal enterprise member, from Mexico City to Tucson through efforts of his office and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).
Esquivel, along with 17 other defendants, was 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 Esquivel, a broker working on behalf of a drug trafficking organization operating in Southern Arizona, remained in Mexico to avoid apprehension by U.S. and Arizona authorities until his arrest on the provisional arrest warrant.
“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.”
In a successful investigation by the Tucson Police Department, police identified an illegal drug trafficking organization operating in Southern Arizona and determined that Esquivel, along with Rafael Araiza who also was extradited from Mexico in April of this year by the Attorney General’s Office, were involved in the drug trafficking operations. Esquivel’s role in the criminal enterprise was that of a marijuana sales broker, while Araiza organized the smuggling of drug proceeds, concealed in hidden compartments in vehicles, back into Mexico through U.S. ports of entry. While Esquivel organized marijuana sales in Southern Arizona, the drug trafficking organization imported 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 United States, the drugs were sold and distributed throughout southern Arizona and Nevada.
Esquivel was arrested 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 and from other witnesses – all which had to be approved by Arizona State Courts.
Esquivel was arraigned yesterday, August 6, 2013 in the Pima County Courthouse and goes back for a Case Management Hearing on September 5, 2013.