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Spain to extradite suspected Mexican drug lord to US

Juan Manuel Muñoz Luévano allegedly has links to the powerful Zetas cartel

Juan Manuel Muñoz Luévano, suspected of carrying out operations for Mexican drugs cartel the Zetas in Spain, is to be extradited to the US where he is wanted over alleged offenses including drug trafficking, illegal possession of weapons and money laundering. Muñoz, also known as El Mono (The Monkey) was arrested by Spanish police at his Madrid home in March 2016 on similar charges and is currently in prison.

Juan Manuel Muñoz (left) in Madrid at a meeting filmed by Spanish police.
Juan Manuel Muñoz (left) in Madrid at a meeting filmed by Spanish police.

Last October, EL PAÍS revealed that Excel spreadsheets stored on two computers seized at his residence detailed the handover of 59 items of luggage containing millions of euros to Zetas bosses at downtown hotels in Mexico. Accounting records show the money, which totaled €63 million, came from the sale in just six days of 2,100 kilograms of cocaine that the Zetas cartel had shipped into Spain.

Muñoz is also suspected of being involved in a plan to murder a Mexican state prosecutor

Spain will now hand over Muñoz to the US, Spanish news agency EFE reports. US authorities suspect the Mexican citizen of having headed up, from the late 1990s to 2015, a drug trafficking ring with links to the Zetas, and which imported cocaine into the US from Mexico.

The US believes El Mono to be “an important member of the criminal organization the Zetas with links to Mexican politicians at the highest level.”

For the Drug Enforcement Administration and US justice authorities, Muñoz is “a major drug trafficker and money launderer.” He is suspecting of running a chain of gas stations in Mexico he uses to launder the money he makes from drug trafficking.

Muñoz is also suspected of being involved in a plan to murder a Mexican prosecutor. In December, EL PAÍS reported that Spanish authorities had alerted their counterparts in Mexico about an order given by Muñoz in Madrid for the assassination of the official at the public prosecutor’s office in Mexico’s Coahuila state. However, the Mexican government never followed up on the matter.

English version by George Mills.

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