U.S. Arrests Mexican Attorney General for Smuggling Drugs

Published: 30 March 2017

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Edgar Veytia (Photo: Twitter of Attorney General of the State of Nayarit)

By Karina Shedrofsky

United States authorities on Wednesday said they arrested a Mexican attorney general on charges that he conspired to smuggle heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the U.S.

Edgar Veytia, top law enforcement official in the Mexican state of Nayarit — which has been hard hit by drug cartel violence in recent years — was detained Mondayat the U.S. border in San Diego.

The indictment, filed earlier this month and unsealed by a U.S. magistrate judge in Brooklyn on Tuesday, accuses Veytia of conspiring "with others" to manufacture and distribute illegal drugs and import them to the U.S. between January 2013 and February of this year.

At least one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, 500 grams of methamphetamine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana were involved in the conspiracy, according to the indictment.

The investigation was a collaboration of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego FBI spokesman Davene Butler told Reuters.

Veytia’s arrest is a new blow to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governs Nayarit and has been plagued by multiple corruption scandals that have driven numerous former governors to flee criminal prosecution, Reuters reported.

The governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval, said at a press conference that he was surprised to hear about the arrest and that the state government would cooperate with investigators in Mexico and the United States. 

"I want to be very clear to the people of Nayarit, men and women, that I will personally take responsibility for security...in the state," Sandoval said. "We will not lower our guard, we will continue to be one of the safest states."

Nayarit, on Mexico’s western coast, is wedged between Jalisco and Sinaloa, where two powerful drug cartels operate.

Violence erupted in Sinaloa after the extradition of legendary drug lord Joaqiun "El Chapo" Guzman left a vacuum in the leadership of the organization.

Jalisco is the home of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which Mexican media have long alleged has ties to Veytia.

Veytia was the target of an assassination attempt in 2011, which was later linked to people affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel, according to the Los Angeles Times.