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.