Former Mexican cop extradited to San Diego from Italy on drug-trafficking charges
Ramon Santoyo Cristobal, aka “Dr. Wagner,” is alleged to be a member of the Sinaloa cartel
A former Mexican federal police officer accused of helping the Sinaloa cartel in its global drug-trafficking operation was extradited from Italy to San Diego Wednesday to face federal charges.
Ramon Santoyo Cristobal, who also goes by the moniker “Dr. Wagner,” was indicted by a grand jury in San Diego in 2016 on drug-trafficking conspiracy and money laundering charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The conspiracy involved trafficking “substantial quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico into the United States,” prosecutors said.
Santoyo, 44, was a fugitive until August 2019, when he traveled to Rome and was arrested by Italian ities. According to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, he was arrested in the Fiumicino International Airport before boarding a flight to Paris, which was to continue on to Mexico City, where he lives.
Santoyo challenged his extradition to the U.S. in the Italian courts, but the Supreme Court of Cassation rejected his arguments in July, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The Ministry of Justice ized his extradition in August and he arrived in San Diego on Wednesday.
He pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance in San Diego federal court on Thursday.
There were few public details of his alleged involvement.
An Italian order validating the arrest, obtained by Il Messaggero, said one of Santoyo’s men was stopped at a checkpoint at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2015 with money to deliver back to the cartel, according to the newspaper.
Santoyo is charged in the same indictment as Damaso “Mini Lic” Lopez-Serrano, a godson of Sinaloa kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Lopez-Serrano pleaded guilty in 2018, admitting to being a leader within the cartel and acting as a major coordinator who moved “tonnage quantities” of drugs across the border. He has yet to be sentenced.
Lopez-Serrano had turned himself in to U.S. ities at the Calexico West Port of Entry the summer of 2017, as ities in Mexicali hunted for him. He had been in the middle of a power struggle within the cartel, pitted against Guzmán’s sons.
Guzmán was convicted in a Brooklyn court last year and is serving a life sentence at a super-maximum security prison in Florence, Colo.
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