By Elliot Spagat
SAN DIEGO — Mexican drug cartel kingpin Benjamin Arellano Felix will plead guilty to unspecified charges, the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego said Wednesday.
Spokeswoman Debra Hartman said she could not elaborate in advance of the filing. Arellano Felix is expected in federal court Wednesday afternoon.
Arellano Felix headed a once-mighty cartel that came to power in Tijuana, Mexico, in the late 1980s.
Defense attorney Anthony Colombo did not immediately respond to a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Arellano Felix was extradited from Mexico in April 2011 to face drug, money-laundering and racketeering charges. He had been under indictment in the U.S. since 2003 and is one of the highest-profile kingpins to face prosecution in the United States.
Arellano Felix was incarcerated in Mexico since his 2002 arrest and was sentenced in 2007 to 22 years in prison on drug trafficking and organized crime charges.
The U.S. indictment says Arellano Felix was the principal organizer and top leader of the Arellano Felix cartel going back to 1986, and that the cartel tortured and killed rivals in the United States and Mexico as it smuggled tons of Mexican marijuana and Colombian cocaine.
The cartel, which was known to dissolve the bodies of its enemies in vats of lye, began to lose influence along California's border with Mexico after Arellano Felix was arrested in 2002. A month earlier, his brother, Ramon, called the cartel's top enforcer, died in a shootout with Mexican authorities.
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