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Mexican Police Send Drug Kingpin To U.S. To Stand Trial


We're continuing to track the story from Paris and also following this. One of the most prolific drug traffickers in Central America and in Mexico has been sent to the United States for trial. Mexico is speeding deportation of drug kingpins. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: U.S. officials say Caesar Gastelum Serrano used his vast criminal network to move tons of cocaine every week by air, land and sea across South, Central and North America. Mexican police arrested him last April in the resort of Cancun. And as of last Sunday, he's in a U.S. prison preparing to stand trial. From arrest to extradition in just seven months is lightning-fast, given that extraditions from Mexico crawled to a halt in the last three years, dropping as much as 50 percent. Most infamous was Mexico's failure to extradite the world's top trafficker, Joaquin Chapo Guzman, before he escaped from Mexico's maximum security prison in July. Alejandro Hope, a security expert with eldailypost.com, says that embarrassment, along with the removal of Mexico's attorney general of the past three years, seems to have unclogged the extradition pipeline. Hope says the former AG, Jesus Murillo Karam, clung to antiquated views that Mexico - not the U.S. - should try its criminals.

ALEJANDRO HOPE: He was probably of the more old-school type of politician than either his successor or some of his predecessors.

KAHN: Karam's successor, Arely Gomez, is credited with improving extradition rates. Insiders say she and her counterpart, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, have smoothed over any past hard feelings.

BRUCE SWARTZ: Some have described it as a new era.

KAHN: U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz insists cooperation has always been close between the U.S. and Mexico. But he says the women have hit it off.

SWARTZ: And I think that those two working together have been able to make possible even closer cooperation between our two countries.

KAHN: They've already met three times in person since taking office this year and spoken several times over the phone. Extraditions are back on track, set to return to 2012 levels. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.