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Old 01-19-10, 10:45 PM   #1
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Post Mexican judge orders Tijuana kingpin to face trial (AP)

AP - An alleged drug kingpin blamed for much of Tijuana's gang violence was ordered to face trial Tuesday, while the military said it caught three purported members of his gang about to dissolve a body in chemicals.

A judge ordered "El Teo" Teodoro Garcia Simental, who was arrested last week, to stand trial on organized crime and drug trafficking charges, the Attorney General's Office said.

Troops, meanwhile, arrested two men and a woman at a house in Tijuana where a body was found in a bathtub, about to be dissolved in a chemical substance, a military statement said. Soldiers received a tip that armed people were storing drugs in the house.

The military said the three worked for Raydel Udiarte, the reputed chief of hit men for Garcia's gang. They were found with 117 kilograms (258 pounds) of marijuana, three rifles, a pistol, ammunition and two bulletproof vests, the military said.

Authorities say Garcia is connected to the deaths of at least 300 people and ordered his rivals disposed of in especially grisly ways, including dissolving them in caustic soda. He is also believed to be behind many of the dozens of assassinations of Tijuana police officers the last two years.

Officials say Garcia broke with the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel in an April 2008 shootout, plunging the city across the border from San Diego into a period of unprecedented violence. More than 1,500 people have been slain in Tijuana since the beginning of 2008.

Federal troops arrested Garcia on Jan. 12 at a seaside vacation home near the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, where his gang allegedly had been bringing in planeloads of drugs to smuggle across the U.S. border.

It was the second time in less than a month that Mexico took down one of its most powerful traffickers. Drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed Dec. 16 in a military raid on a luxury apartment complex in the central city of Cuernavaca.

In 2006, President Felipe Calderon deployed tens of thousands of soldiers to drug trafficking hotspots across Mexico in a frontal attack on brutal cartels. Drug gang violence has since surged, claiming more than 15,000 lives.


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