[JURIST] Mexico extradited drug kingpins Osiel Cardenas [DEA backgrounder] and Hector "El Guero" Palma and thirteen other major traffickers to the United States Friday as part of an effort by new Mexican president Felipe Calderon [official website] to follow through on a promise made by former President Vincente Fox [BBC profile] to make increased extraditions to the US [JURIST report]. Since taking office, Calderon has mobilized elite police and military forces against the rival Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels. Although the widely popular initiative is showing initial success, experts warn that Calderon must address the political and judicial corruption that allows cartels to run rampant in Mexico.
Kingpins are often able to continue running their organizations from within corrupt Mexican prisons, making the extradition of leaders a key tool for scaling back cartel activity. In November 2005, the Supreme Court of Mexico [official website] ruled that prisoners serving life sentences can be extradited abroad [JURIST report], overturning a 2001 decision [EscapingJustice.com backgrounder] that prevented such prisoners from answering to charges in the US insofar as punishment there might be cruel and unusual and not directed at rehabilitation of the prisoner. A 1978 treaty between the US and Mexico still prevents the extradition of prisoners who face the death penalty. Reuters has more.