Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Judge bans lawyer from Mexican kingpin's case

Monday, May 23, 2011 |

By The Associated Press

A well-known criminal defense attorney was disqualified Monday from representing one of Mexico's earliest drug kingpins after prosecutors questioned whether he was linked to his client's cartel.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said allowing lawyer Jan Ronis to argue the case could become a sideshow and cause substantial delays.

His ruling cast aside an argument by Ronis that the ban would deny defendant Benjamin Arellano Felix his right to choose a lawyer.

Arellano Felix was extradited from Mexico last month to face drug, money-laundering and racketeering charges, ending a quest by U.S. authorities that began shortly after he was indicted in 2003.

He headed a once-mighty cartel based in Tijuana, Mexico, and is one of the highest-profile kingpins to face prosecution in the United States.

The dispute about legal representation centered on Ronis' representation of a potential witness who pleaded guilty to a role in smuggling 528 pounds of cocaine from Mexico in 1995.

Prosecutors said a senior cartel lieutenant who was arrested in 1997 would testify that he paid for the witness' legal representation.

The witness, who was not named, would testify that neither he nor his family hired Ronis, and that Ronis once told him that "everything had been taken care of with respect to his payment," prosecutors said.

James Melendres, an assistant U.S. attorney, said at the hearing Monday that Ronis himself was implicated in the racketeering conspiracy, but he did not specify how. Prosecutors said they might call Ronis to testify.

Ronis, who did not state his case at the hearing, argued in court papers that prosecutors' attempt to oust him was an effort to "stack the deck" against Arellano Felix, whose family approached the attorney about a year ago to represent him.

"Given the nature of the case, there are very few qualified attorneys who have the legal skill, knowledge and ability to represent Mr. Arellano Felix," Ronis argued in a filing.

Ronis, 65, told reporters he doubted the government intended to ask him to testify. He also said he would be shocked if his former client, who long ago completed his sentence, would testify.

Eugene Iredale, a San Diego defense attorney who represented a senior cartel lieutenant in the 2003 indictment, suggested prosecutors may have wanted to have a less skillful adversary in the case.

"A more decent and ethical person you could not meet," Iredale said of Ronis.

The 1995 cocaine seizure involving Ronis' former client is among a myriad of alleged crimes listed in the indictment that date back to the mid-1980s, when the Arellano Felix cartel rose to power.

The judge expressed concern that Ronis might feel compelled to defend his own reputation at trial.

"I'd want to defend my client but I'd also want to defend my reputation," said Burns, a former federal prosecutor.

Burns kept a court-appointed defense attorney, Douglas C. Brown, on the case. Prosecutors said they planned to turn over about 160,000 pages of evidence on Monday to prepare for trial.

The hearing was held under tight security at San Diego's downtown courthouse. The Marshals Service wanted to keep Arellano Felix in handcuffs in the courtroom but Burns ordered the cuffs to be taken off.

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24 Borderland Beat Comments:

J said...

Frankly, this is an attempt to stack the deck, and remove the most qualified attorney available. But, it's a dirty game, and San Diego feds and judge HATE the Arelllano Felix family.

All the extra security is a joke, and prejudicial to a jury. I don't understand it, didn't want to take the handcuff offs? Why? What do they think it going to happen? Do they really think anyone is going to try to get him out of prison? lol. Never happen, even if Arellano's were as strong as Sinaloa.

Anonymous said...

Drugs are just products,so this is just part of economy.There should be legalisation of all drugs.Everyone should have right to eat and drink whatever he wants.
The persons who take drugs-they should have right to take drugs.If they die-nobody should give a fuck about them.No help from the state.Society don't need stupid units-and don't have to pay for theirs rehab.Only strong units will survive like in Darwins theory.Weak drugusers should die-it would be better for all society.Drugtraffickers are just businessmans.

Anonymous said...

In the USA the strong pay for the weak,in spades. Problem is that the weak are multaplying like rats,Govt services hvae increased massivley, Govt income and USA economy in crapper and will continue to decline. SO lets leagalize drugs and cut druggies OUT of the welfare state!! You will have the support of all employed Americans.

Anonymous said...

looks like after we spend thousands on this trial for a guilty verdict the defense will have it thrown out on appeal at a higher court.after that the man will go free because there will be too much pressure on the cost side of of a retrial (and the donkey to the corn)

Anonymous said...

Drug dealers are definitely not "just businessmans".
They do other crimes to innocents because of their insatiable craving for the high drugs produce and the money that goes with drugs. Those crimes destabilize society and produce more crime. Legalizing drugs is exactly what the criminals want because it creates more societal havoc and thus makes it harder for authorities to crack down on them.
The dealer mentioned in this article is enough of a threat to US security that preventative measures are necessary. I personally feel that the top drug kingpins like this guy are more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden was.

Anonymous said...

Well we want to be sure Benji gets a fair trial before we hang his worthless ass.

J - you don't think Benji would try to escape if he thought he had any chance at all? He has money and he has influence and he has enemies. Never say never.

1:17

Anonymous said...

"A more decent and ethical person you could not meet," Iredale said of Ronis.

lol

DFL said...

What Mr. Arelleno Felix needs more than a good lawyer is a hot bullet to his head. That will solve everything and cure him of further Criminal activity. ( So will his long stay at Supermax)LOLOL!!!

AmigoAnónimo said...

"Legalizing drugs is exactly what the criminals want because it creates more societal havoc and thus makes it harder for authorities to crack down on them."

NO.
Legalizing drugs is exactly what the criminals DON'T want, because their source of income is DESTROYED, thus ELIMINATING the societal havoc THEY cause. Then, the authorities can focus ALL of their collective energies on cracking down on people who do bad things to other people. Chase murderers, rapists, pedophiles, corrupt politicians, robbers, con artists, ET AL...not dopers.

Anonymous said...

The Feds are not going to do anything that is going to get a case overturned. Their resources are unlimited and they use them all in these big Federal cases. They treat all cases as big cases.

And if the Judges and prosecutors in San Diego don't like the Arellonos', that compound their determination to do everything strict, concrete and by the book. Considering all the kidnappings in Tijuana and Southern California, the blood baths in both areas for years, since-less killings of innocent people as if it were sport, who there would have good feelings toward the Arellanos'.

I suspect the court is trying to avoid theatrics by the defense that could prolong the trial. It could have come somewhere along the way with Arellano firing his attorney due to a dual role or conflict of interest. It could also be because their could be leaks and passing of information not related to the trial.

From this point on, you can consider Arellano "supermax" material with almost no contact with the outside world. Hell, for all we know, his dumb ass brother probably killed the Judges maid's son because he was in the forth car that passed the street light and that was the bet. That was how much they liked to kill.

No love lost, legal concern, or empathy for this guy. They were judge jury, and executioner for many, many innocent people. I am not going to waste my energy on worrying that "he" gets a fair trial. Hell, they had safe houses with cages stacked on cages for their kidnaped victims before they collected the money, then killed the victims, then destroyed the evidence in vats of acid.

LOL> it does my heart good to see him look so sad and depressed. He will last about 9 years in supermax before he dies and goes to Hell.

TRC

J said...

Seems like a lot of anger directed at Arellano Felix, but I've seen you post sympathetically towards the Juarez Cartel, same amount of disgust if this was Vicente Fuentes on trial? Not an attack on you, just asking.

Anonymous said...

When drugs are legalized, criminals will turn to other means of crime for making money.
Cartels in Mexico make their money not just on drugs. Extortion, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corruption, and exports of drugs to forein coyntries go hand in hand with the drug trade. Legalizing drugs would cause criminals to expand those alternative routes of income to make up for the loss of drug sales.
Besides, the cartels are ingenious enough to find ways to control the drug trade if it were to be legalized. They are going after non drug businesses like oil, produce, and precious metals.
The social fallout of legalizing drugs would result in a destruction of society that no police force could control. That is why drugs are illegal all over the world.

Anonymous said...

The US Attorney Office had their chance to indict Ronis 20 years ago but balked due to their fear of the 9th Circuit and their general fear of "going to trial." I'm sure the current US Attorney has been trained, influenced and continues to rely on her slinky-spined staff to guide her through this confrontation with Ben Arellano.

Ben deserves to rot in hell with the rest of his family. He'll get the standard 30 - 40 year deal all the other mass-murderers have received in the Southern District of California - again the US Attorneys Office will take the easy way out due to their fear of losing and failure to "do the right thing."

In any other federal district, Ronis would be doggy-humped every day by Ben in a super-max prison for the rest of their lives.

The Truth

Anonymous said...

@ J You are somewhat correct in your observation. First, I read a lot of stuff on Ramon and how he wore full length mink coats in the summer and drove Ferraris and ran with the ultra rich. How he and his friends would do cocaine all day everyday and play games like; track the 4th car through this intersection and find out who he is. Then kill him next week. They did a lot of things related to kidnapping that disgusted me too. This was all long before the craziness of todays cartels. It really pisses me off that someone can be so bad at kidnapping that after the families pay, they kill the victims anyway. That was standard operation for them. Unfortunately, it has become standard across the board but they did it long ago but Juarez did too. Tijuana was an arrogant evil. But on the other hand JL Rakin with the Juarez Cartel were evil too.

About the Juarez Cartel. The NarcoNews.com has many articles on the Death House and the informant Pelon. It tells similar horror stories but most were related to mistakes people made with drug trafficking. The Juarez Cartel could and should have done something about people praying on the young girls and they didn't. There are allegations that some members were even involved in some of the murders. But, the Juarez Cartel is nothing like the Zetas. And you know, I do know people involved with the Juarez Cartel and for that matter Sinaloa too.

Most of my comments are based on me "knowing" that the Juarez Cartel will not leave Juarez and it frustrates me that the Feds and Military continue to try to open the door there for Sinaloa. Every bad thing gets blamed on Juarez while much of it is done by Sinaloa to sabotage. And the people of Juarez are left to suffer while the people makings decisions are in Mexico City and Sinaloa and other places in the State of Chihuahua. I see the only way for peace is for the feds to back out of Juarez and let the wars bleed to a truce. Thats just me.

Much respect,

TRC

J said...

I have read a lot about the Arellano's too, and yes, I have seem the mink coats and ferraris, and testimony from Alex Hoyoyan, (narco junior turned witness) that Ramon asked them 'who do you want to kill today' and then go out of lobster dinner. Ramon was a maniac, but I never saw anything about kidnapping for ransom, profit, until the days of El Teo, a few years ago. Is there somewhere I can read about what you are talking about?

Anonymous said...

fabian martinez gonzalez is the real leader of the arellano cartel

Anonymous said...

If you are asking if I can give you the name of an article with a time line, I can't think of one off the top of my head.

TRC

Anonymous said...

TRC your credibility is low because of your sympathy towards drug cartels.
You can't hate some and be ok with others unless you are involved. That would explain your rationalizations about Juarez and Sinaloa.

"The Juarez cartel is nothing like the Zetas." That is the statement of someone trying to stay on the fence. Someone who needs to stay on the fence.

1:17

Anonymous said...

@ 11:32 I have been clean for 22 years. Who you know in your past is just that. I went to prison twice prior to getting clean. After getting clean, I got a bachelors degree then an Masters Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Hispanic and American Indian culture. Later I got a second Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis on long term healthcare. I was there and have " a right of passage" with the drug culture because of my past. I have no reason to be involved but it seems you are looking for someone that is involved.

I despise the Sinaloa Cartels' actions in Juarez. I have never written anything I can recall favorable to Sinaloa. If I seem to favor Juarez it is simply because I "know" that is the only way to find peace.

If you poled the people on this site, do you think they would favor CDG over Los Zetas. Your not so bright if you say no. It is like politics, sometimes you vote for the politician least likely to do harm.

Do you actually think Calderon is going to get rid of the Cartels? Do you actually think they want to? Do I intimidate you? Your attempted articulate attack is becoming obvious!

TRC

J said...

I hope you aren't referring to Fabian MAartinez, 'El Tiburon', a junior who was killed or captured at least ten years ago. Inegniero & Endenina control whats left.

Anonymous said...

@ J...You sure seem to be favorable to the Tijuana Cartel. Are you pro cartels and crime or just the Tijuana Cartel?

TRC

Anonymous said...

May 24, 2011 8:49 AM
Mabye drug some dealers are definitely not "just businessmans"(because they also extort and do other shity things),but the main source of theirs force is drug business(so business).It's much more difficult to build huge criminal organisation based on extortion,kidnapings killings-because it is more visible for state,and don't bring such profits like drugs.
Without drugs all these narco capos,wouldn't have money to corrupt officials,buy guns etc.


(Cartels don't want legalisation0-because they will have to face with legal rivals.And that will ruin theirs businesss model.)

Drug barons have theirs product and they sell it on the market.Army,DEA,police will never win this war,because mechanism of supply and demand is unstoppable.If someone want to buy drug in USA or in Mexico he will do it-or he will produce some drug it himself.Everybody should have right to drink or eat whatever he wants.If he is stupid-he die-if he inteligent he lives.Society don't need stupid and weak-like in Darvin evolution theory.

Police officers and soldiers are dying in the war witch is unwinable.The truth is cartels have more gunmans,pay better,and have much more money then police,DEA,army,and maybe more then Mexican goverment.The weak organisations will always loose with stronger organisation.


It is easier for state to fight with extorion,killings and other crimes then with drugs.In Poland in this year there was 34 kidnappings-and all succesfully solved(no victim died).


My piece of advice for Mexico (and not only):1.Legalise all drugs
2.No rehab for drug users from the state(some of drug users will die-but right now-they also die,so it changes nothing)
3.Death penalty for all murders-even in Bible-there is written that death penalty is good.Everyone who want to kill-should be aware that punishment for that is dead.Even Jesus(so God) didn't help felons,when he was dying on the cross-so in his opinion this punishment was justiced for them.Jeil won't make from murders, good people.For theirs time in jeil taxpayers(between them families of victims) will have to pay. After time spended in jeil they will be still danger to rest of society.You take someone life-you will die-this is true justice.

This is solution to this situation.Greetings from Poland.

Anonymous said...

@TRC - Do you intimidate me? no, but that's a strange question.

You put "" around "know" because you want us to think you have inside info. Perhaps you do, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is right and wrong.

You were there and you have a right of passage. I don't think so. There is nothing honorable or noble about having a criminal past. It is to your credit that you left it behind.

You have no reason to be involved? That's great but either you are or you aren't. Logic has nothing to do with it.

There is little to be gained from a discussion of the merits of one cartel over another. It is interesting. It is like talking about the battles of the us civil war. The fact is that all criminals are bad guys.

1:17

Anonymous said...

Lets not mention that the Arellano family has invested stacks on franchise legitatamate businesses scattered from Baja california to California. The Family makes the real profit. Ramon was a knucklehead with his team of juniors rolling around with their baseball caps well fitted doing the "business" as they would call it. Now these were real hustlers with Italalian class and style. The nineties were the years. The CAF still in business though regardless of the hits. Lived half of my childhood in tijuana and my uncle hanged with some of the juniors back in the late 90s. I know where i get my history lessons from not you cats who read of the net or papers. Mis respetos para el Min.

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