A sign of a soldier indicates a checkpoint for drug inspection, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Latin America: Week in Review

Mexico’s “King of Heroin” Arrested; Faces Drug Trafficking Charges in Mexico and U.S.

March 26, 2010 By Staff
A sign of a soldier indicates a checkpoint for drug inspection, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

A sign of a soldier indicates a checkpoint for drug inspection, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Mexican police arrested Wednesday José Antonio Medina, known as “The King of Heroin,” who allegedly brought an average of 440 pounds of heroin a month from Mexico to the United States hidden in secret compartments of vehicles.

Medina, 36, also known as “Don Pepe,” is believed by U.S. authorities to be “the main supplier of heroin to this country,” according to Ramon Pequeño, head of Mexico’s anti-drug squad. He allegedly bought the narcotics in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero and stored the heroin in Michoacán for shipment north.

Mexican officials allege that Medina and his organization, the Medina group, sold about $12 million worth of heroin a month in 2007.

The state of California is seeking the extradition of Medina on charges of drug trafficking.

The arrest of Medina comes just a day after a visit to Mexico by top officials in the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The U.S. delegation met Tuesday with Mexican officials to introduce a counter-narcotics strategy that aims to strengthen local law enforcement and rebuild communities affected by drug violence and poverty.

The increased focus on violence due to Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s drug war also has some American companies worried about security and  future investments in Mexico. An American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico poll reports that 58 percent of its members felt less safe in 2009 than in the previous year.

Production of Mexican heroin more than doubled in 2009, with seizures by U.S. authorities along the Southwest border last year rising to about 1,200 pounds, up from 926 in 2008.

“Mexican heroin has been a threat to the United States for decades…Nearly all of the heroin produced in Mexico is destined for distribution in the United States,” according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Additional Information: Learn more about California heroin addiction treatment centers.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America


  • U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) called on the Cuban government to release U.S. contractor Alan Gross, saying that his detention is obstructing the passage of a bill to legalize travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens. Gross was arrested last December for allegedly distributing laptops to political dissidents.
  • In Miami, Cuban-born singer Gloria Estefan led a march in solidarity with Cuba’s “Ladies in White,” a group of female relatives of 75 dissidents arrested for allegedly collaborating with Washington against the revolutionary government in 2003. Colombian pop star Juanes expressed support for the Ladies in White via his Twitter account.

Central America

  • A 4.7 magnitude earthquake hit Guatemala Wednesday but no deaths or damages were reported.
  • Honduran journalist Karol Cabrera said she will not leave the hospital where she is recovering from a a second assassination attempt until she is granted safe passage out of the country
  • The Panamanian government will buy the toll highway connecting Panama City to Panama’s international airport from the Mexican company ICA for $420 million.


Southern Cone

Image: Wonderlane @ Flickr.

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