Update and Original Post Follows
U.S. Attorney's Office drops Arellano case
By Sandra Dibble Oct. 25, 2013
Manuel Aguirre Galindo, a former high-ranking member of the Arellano Felix Organization captured Saturday in Mexico City. — Reforma
In an unusual move, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego has dismissed a case against a long-sought senior member of the once-powerful Arellano Felix cartel detained in Mexico.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Friday confirmed the arrest Saturday of Manuel Aguirre Galindo, also known as “El Caballo” (“The Horse”). But the charges against Aguirre for drug trafficking and money laundering in San Diego federal court had been dismissed just days earlier.
“Our case against Manuel Aguirre Galindo was more than 15 years old,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement on Friday. “Given the passage of time, the United States faced challenges with evidence and availability of witnesses that could not be overcome.”
Duffy’s office dismissed the case against against Aguirre on Oct. 11. He was arrested in Mexico City eight days later, last Saturday, according to reports in the Mexican media.
“It’s a really big deal to dismiss a federal indictment,” said John Kirby, a former federal prosecutor in San Diego who worked with Duffy on two indictments unsealed in 2003 that named Aguirre and other ten other senior cartel members. “It doesn’t happen very often.”
Kirby said that the case the case against Aguirre “was strong when I left,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2005. “It was a witness-based case, and over time witnesses disappear, commit other crimes, they get deported. So who knows what it looks like now.”
Mexican authorities had issued no statements about the detention as of Friday. Reports in Mexican media stated that Aguirre faces charges in his own country of organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, and that he is in custody at the federal Altiplano penitentiary outside Mexico City.
Duffy said in her statement that “this is a very significant arrest for both countries, and we recognize the hard work and commitment it took to bring charges against this elusive figure who was once of the highest-ranking leaders of the Arellano Felix cartel.”
Aguirre is 70 years old, according to a U.S. Marshal’s wanted poster. Born in Mexicali, “he had been moving drugs into the United States for decades, even before the Arellanos were anybody,” Kirby said. “He was the guy the Colombians knew and trusted.”
Aguirre served as the Arellano’s liaison with Columbian traffickers and was “one of the four primary leaders of the organization.”
In 1998, Mexican federal authorities seized the Oasis Resort Hotel at the northern end of Rosarito Beach, saying they had found evidence the hotel belonged to Aguirre.
Following the detention of cartel leader Benjamin Arellano in 2002, Kirby said, Aguirre "disappeared and went off the map.”
Aguirre was one of seven senior Arellano Felix members portrayed on a 2003 U.S. State Department wanted poster that offered $2 million for information leading to his capture. The six others are behind bars in Mexico and the United States.
In 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department took action against two Chula Vista homes linked to Aguirre, citing the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Act. They identified the owner of the properties as Esperanza Galindo Leyva, Aguirre’s mother.
Captured Manuel Aguirre Galindo, "El Caballo"
Although federal authorities have not officially released the arrest of the "financial brain" Arellano Felix Cartel (CAF), Manuel Aguirre Galindo, it has been learned that he was transferred to the maximum security prison "Altiplano" in Almoloya.
Manuel Aguirre Galindo, El Caballo one of the founders and most important men in the structure of the Arellano Felix brothers cartel, is now prisoner in the Federal Center for Social rehabilitation, number one, Altiplano. Known as Almoloya.
According to information from Reforma, the finance manager of the criminal organization was captured on Saturday October 19 in Mexico City, one day after Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix "la Pancha" was killed in Baja California Sur.
Manuel Aguirre, about 70 years old and who also calls himself Estanislao Olmos
González and “El Galán,” is designated as the major money launderer for CAF.
Since July 2003, the United States State Department offered a reward for information on the whereabouts of Aguirre Galindo, who was responsible for the financial management of the Organization and also considered to be one of the main operators of Arellano Felix Organization. U.S. Authorities included an order of provisional detention for purposes of extradition to the Mexican Government, since he is also accused of various offenses related to the trafficking of drugs into U.S. territory. Aguirre Galindo was, according to the United States drug enforcement agency, the last of the founders of the Arellano Felix Organization who was at large.
Enedina Arellano Félix y Fernando Sánchez Arellano “El Ingeniero” are still at large.
Among other properties with which the U.S. authorities identified Manuel Aguirre Galindo as the financial leader of the group related to the Oasis Resort built in 1998 in Baja California.
Manuel Aguirre has a criminal record since 1981 when he was arrested for alleged involvement in drug crimes in the vicinity of San Felipe, Baja California, by offloading drugs in a clandestine airport runway and is reported to launder money through the resort Oasis Resort Playa Mar,
Manuel Aguirre Galindo's arrest took place in Mexico City by the Federal Police;
However, so far the capture has not been officially announced, and the Attorney General of the Republic said he is still being interrogated with the Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (Seido) Attorney.
Nickname: El Caballo
Cartel Affiliation: Arellano-Felix
Manuel Aguirre Galindo, aka " El Caballo" is most recognized for his use of a network of financial association and real estate companies to hide and launder his drug monies. He is affilated with the Arellano-Felix organization and has been for over fifteen years. Aguirre Galindo has a long criminal history as a major Mexican drug trafficker.
In January 2002, Aguirre Galindo was designated by OFAC pursuant to the Kingpin Act. The Kingpin Act involves appling financial measures against foreign narcotics trafficking kingpins worldwide.
In July 2003, he and other senior members of the Arellano- Felix Organization (AFO) were indicted for narcotics trafficking, money laundering and conducting the affairs of an illegal enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO).
In January, 2006, the OFAC identified five companies and six individuals whom have acted as fronts for Aguirre Galindo. By exposing his accomplices and the fronting companies, it will cut them off from the United States and its financial institutions. Alberto Alfredo Valencia Martinez, Urbano Hernandez Somero and Manuel Francisco Aguirre Ramos (Aguirre Galindo's son) are among the accomplices identified. These individuals served to incorporate, administer and hold front companies on Aguirre Galindo's behalf. The companies involved included the following Tijuana real estate firms; Playa Mar S.A. de C.V., Inmobiliaria Esparta S.A. de C.V., Inmobiliaria La Provincia S.A. de C.V., Inmobiliaria Estado 29 S.A. de C.V., and Inmobiliaria Tijuana Costa S.A. de C.V.. The resulting effect of the OFAC identifing these 11 designess is the blocking of any assets found within U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits anyone in the United States from doing business with these named individuals and entities.
Manuel Aguirre Galindo is a fugitive from the US Dept of Justice and has a $2 million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest.
Sources: Zeta, Riodoce, Narcoticnews, Zeta, Jornada, Elvigia, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Excelsior