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Sinaloa drug cartel leader 'Chino Antrax' extradited to California

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A suspected high-level Sinaloa drug cartel operative known as "Chino Antrax" was extradited on Thursday from the Netherlands to the United States, where he faces charges related to drug smuggling, the Justice Department said.

Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, an alleged bodyguard and leader of a cartel enforcement unit called "Los Antrax", was flown by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration from Amsterdam to San Diego International Airport on Thursday, the Justice Department said in a statement.

"(Arechiga-Gamboa) allegedly assisted the Sinaloa Cartel by providing security for narcotics shipments and conducting enforcement operations," the statement said, adding he "rose to become one of the highest-level leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel."

A federal grand jury in Dan Diego indicted Arechiga-Gamboa in December 2013 on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances intended for importation and conspiracy to import controlled substances, the Justice Department said.

Arechiga-Gamboa was arrested at the request of the United States days later at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as he disembarked from a flight from Mexico City. He is to be arraigned on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin in San Diego, in southern California.

Arechiga-Gamboa reputedly posts photos of his exploits on social media websites where he purportedly can be seen decked out in designer clothing, near luxury cars and holding automatic weapons, his face hidden from view.

In one photo, he appears to jump uninvited into view beside Paris Hilton while she is giving a television interview.

Authorities used unspecified forensic techniques to identify Arechiga-Gamboa, who they say has undergone "significant" plastic surgery, attempted to alter his fingerprints, and was traveling under a fake Mexican passport, according to the Department of Justice.

The statement also said Arechiga-Gamboa handled transportation and logistics for Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the world's most wanted drugs lord who was captured earlier this year in collaboration with U.S. agents.

(Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Paul Tait)

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