Facing The Music

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HOUSTON: Juan Garcia Abrego, Mexico's second most powerful drug lord, calmly stood in a Houston courtroom today and listened as a 20-count indictment was read against him. Abrego, one of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives, was arrested by Mexican authorities Sunday after a lengthy manhunt, and was turned over the next day to U.S. officials. Latin American bureau chief Laura Lopez reports: "From the perspective of the U.S., Abrego's arrest and deportation is very positive. Relations between the two countries had begun to sour recently amid speculation about government corruption and complicity in the drug trade. Abrego's capture shows the U.S. that the Mexican government is finally getting serious about cracking down on the drug trafficking in the country. It's playing rather differently here in Mexico, where many people think that this was forced on the Mexican government by the Americans. I don't think the arrest will dent the drug trade, however. Abrego's Gulf Cartel is essentially a family-run operation, and it is likely that one of his relatives will just step in and keep the operation going." The 51-year-old drug kingpin is said to run a $2 billion-a-year drug business, which also includes heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines, and is believed to be responsible for about one-third of the cocaine smuggled into the U.S. He faces charges of conspiracy, distribution of illegal drugs and money laundering.