Security High for Arellano-Felix Hearing

By R. Stickney
|  Monday, May 2, 2011  |  Updated 2:16 PM PDT
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Alleged drug king Alberto Benjamin Arellano-Felix, extradited from Mexico to the U.S. to face racketeering, money laundering and narcotics trafficking charges, was arraigned Monday amid heavy security at the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego.

Arellano-Felix was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in 2002. A final order of extradition to the United States was granted in 2007. After years of unsuccessful appeals, Arellano-Felix arrived in the United States Friday.

Monday’s arraignment was held in a larger courtroom than similar hearings to accommodate spectators and the media. Added scrutiny at the metal detector near the entrance created a backlog for people trying to enter the building. A second metal detector was added to the entrance of the courtroom where the arraignment was held.

Family members traveled from Mexicali to be present at the arraignment.

Arellano-Felix is "fine mentally and physically" despite nine years solitary confinement in Mexico jail, his attorney told reporters.

A federal judge entered a not guilty plea on the defendant's behalf.

Benjamin Arellano Felix is the alleged leader of  the Arellano-Felix drug trafficking organization. He is one of the highest-profile cartel members extradited under the administration of President Felipe Calderon.

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