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Alleged Mexican Drug Cartel Operative Arrested In El Monte

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(credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

(credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

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EL MONTE (CBS) — A woman suspected of being a high-level operative for an extremely violent Michoacan-based cartel was arrested in El Monte and handed over to Mexican authorities, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, was arrested last Wednesday at her El Monte home by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and other members of the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Two days later, she was transported to the U.S.-Mexico border and turned over to Mexican authorities under tight security, according to ICE.

A 64-page criminal warrant issued in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in January 2010 charges Noriega with ongoing involvement in organized crime and drug trafficking as a member of a gang called La Familia.

Mexican authorities allege that she was one of the underworld group’s main U.S.-based lieutenants, helping oversee its methamphetamine distribution in California and Washington state.

Rooted in western Mexico, La Familia engages in narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and other highly violent criminal activities, according to U.S. authorities. In addition to distributing cocaine and marijuana, the gang also is believed to be heavily involved in producing methamphetamine for export to the United States.

In 2004 and 2005, Noriega, who has no criminal convictions in the United States, was arrested and repatriated to Mexico five times by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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