MEXICO CITY (CBSMiami/AP) — Honduras extradited a suspected drug trafficker to Miami for the first time, according to the U.S. State Department.
Carlos Arnoldo Lobo, 40, was extradited on Thursday, spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Miami on Friday afternoon.
Lobo, also known as the “Black Wolf” in Central and South America, is indicted on U.S. drug trafficking charges in the Southern District of Florida, was arrested March 27 when Honduran security forces surprised him in a bakery in San Pedro Sula near the Caribbean coast.
Lobo is believed to be behind one of the biggest cocaine smuggling operations into the United States.D ocuments obtained by CBS4 show U.S. authorities have been after him since 2009 when they began to come across fishing and go fast boats laden with kilos of cocaine.
With each seizure the Coast guard paraded the drugs in front of the media… behind closed doors, arrested smugglers were spilling the beans on a major effort to move smuggling operations into the United States from Mexico’s Border to Miami.
The busted smugglers pleaded guilty and kept dropping one name; “El Lobo Negro” or “The Black Wolf.”
Investigators believe Lobo is responsible for dozens of shipments but so far have connected four busted smuggling operations to him.
Lobo’s extradition was approved in April, and the Supreme Court upheld it last week.
Also in April, the U.S. Treasury Department levied sanctions against Lobo under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for allegedly moving multi-ton loads of cocaine for Mexican, Guatemalan and Honduran drug kingpins and their organizations.
The action seized his property and interests in property in the United States which is about $25 million in houses, boats, and cash. It also prohibits, U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with him.
The Treasury Department alleges that Lobo moved drugs for Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, who was arrested in Mexico in February, and other members of that cartel, as well as the Honduran drug-trafficking organization Los Cachiros. Lobo also is suspected of laundering illicit drug proceeds into real estate, maritime vessels, and seafood shipping businesses.
The U.S. first sought to extradite Lobo in 2012, after Honduras passed a constitutional amendment allowing its nationals to be extradited to the U.S.
Lobo’s Miami attorney, Louis Casuso, said Friday that if the judge allows his client to enter a plea at his initial appearance, he would plead not guilty.
“Basically the case is two guys talking trash about him. Ok…But that remains to be seen,” said Casuso.
His defense attorney spoke candidly, saying he thinks the case is overblown.
“Every time they catch a guy it’s always the same thing. It’s like he’s responsible for all the stuff. We’ll see,” said Casuso.
The federal case will likely rely on testimony from Lobo’s former employees.
If found guilty, he’s facing two lifetime sentences.
Psaki said Honduras’ historic extradition is a “blow against impunity for organized crime” and a sign that new President Juan Orlando Hernandez intends to crack down on drug trafficking in the violence-plagued Central American country.
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