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Suspected cartel member to face Arizona charges

PHOENIX -- Attorney General Tom Horne says a suspected high-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug cartel has been extradited from Mexico to face charges in Arizona.

Rafael Enrique Araiza and 17 others were indicted in November 2010 by a grand jury on 65 counts that included illegally conducting a drug enterprise and money laundering.

Horne's office says some of the defendants have been convicted, but Araiza escaped to Mexico.

Authorities have alleged that Araiza was the head of an illegal drug trafficking organization that was uncovered by investigators with the Tucson Police Department. They say the marijuana brought in to the U.S. by the organization was distributed throughout southern Arizona and Nevada.

The drug proceeds were funneled back into Mexico in hidden vehicle compartments.

Araiza will be arraigned this week at the Pima County courthouse.

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