Carlos Arnoldo Lobo, a reputed high-level South American drug trafficker accused of smuggling hundreds of kilos of cocaine into the United States, has been extradited to Miami to face federal criminal charges, U.S. authorities said Friday.
Lobo, 39, conspired to ship loads of cocaine from Colombia for Honduran, Guatemalan and Mexican gangs, including the Sinaloa cartel, according to an indictment filed in 2011. Extradited from Honduras on Thursday, Lobo’s made his first appearance in Miami federal court on Friday afternoon.
Lobo’s defense attorney, Louis Casuso, said his client intended to enter a not guilty plea.
Lobo was captured in late March by Honduran authorities, who have seized drug-related assets worth more than $25 million.
Honduras recently agreed to extradite Lobo, who is accused of directing the shipment of more than 450 kilos of cocaine into the United States, according to the indictment. It marked the Central American country’s first extradition since changing its drug laws to address requests for wanted traffickers two years ago.
“The arrest and extradition of Carlos Arnoldo Lobo is the direct result of strong international cooperation with Honduran authorities,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.
Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in South Florida, also praised “our international counterparts” for Lobo’s capture. Alysa Erichs, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Miami, called Lobo’s arrest a “significant victory.”
Honduras has become a key transit point for Mexican drug cartels that move cocaine from Colombia into the United States. The U.S. Treasury Department said Lobo's clients included the Sinaloa cartel, which has been at the forefront of cocaine trafficking in Mexico.
Like other drug gangs, the cartel has come under increasing pressure from Mexico's government. Its longstanding boss, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was captured by Mexican security forces in February. Guzmán is also wanted on cocaine-smuggling charges in Miami and other U.S. cities.