Mexican judge suspends U.S. extradition of ‘El Tío’

Latin America World

 “MX” for Borderland Beat

Raúl Flores Hernández (“El Tío”)

A Mexican federal judge suspended the U.S. extradition of Raúl Flores Hernández (“El Tío”), an independent drug kingpin who had strategic alliances with multiple drug cartels. El Tio’s defense issued a motion arguing that 60 days had passed without him being extradited to the U.S., a threshold stipulated in the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Mexico. He asked for his immediate release from prison.

El Tio told the federal judge he was worried about his extradition because he is also accused of murder and does not want to face the death penalty in the U.S. However, Mexican officials reassured him that he will not face death penalty if he is extradited Mexico will not agree to extradite a national under such conditions.

In October 2019, Borderland Beat reported that El Tio had been approved for U.S. extradition after he had exhausted all of the legal remedies available to avoid it. Mexican authorities said that there was not a single obstacle preventing his extradition to the U.S. Today’s action may highlight the government’s inability and/or unwillingness to effectively bring some drug cartel leaders to justice.

Background

U.S. authorities say that El Tio has been a long-time international drug kingpin. Although he operated independently, El Tio maintained ties with multiple drug cartels in Mexico since the 1980s. He had ties to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel. His criminal network was mostly based in Guadalajara and Mexico City, and included a vast web of family members and trusted associates.

“[El Tio] has operated for decades because of his longstanding relationships with other drug cartels and his use of financial front persons to mask his investments of illegal drug proceeds,” said OFAC Director John E. Smith in 2017.

“This major joint action reflects the U.S. government’s close cooperation with our law enforcement partners in Mexico to stop the illegal flow of narcotics and to target and expose drug kingpins and those who facilitate their illicit financial networks.”

In March 2017, he was indicted in the U.S. District of Colombia and the Southern District of California for drug trafficking. In August of that year, he was sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for his involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering.

As a result of this sanction, all of his U.S.-based assets were frozen and U.S. individuals were prohibited from engaging in business activities with him. His assets in Mexico were also frozen.

Sources: Milenio and Borderland Beat archives

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