ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A man accused of being an assassin for a cartel was extradited from Mexico to New Mexico in connection with a 2008 slaying in which a burned body was left on a desert mesa in the state, authorities said.
Jaime Veleta Jr., 35, was recently brought to the U.S. for his role in the death of Danny Baca, who was shot 22 times with a semi-automatic assault rifle and whose burnt body was left on Pajarito Mesa south of Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
Baca, 53, worked for the Juarez cartel smuggling marijuana and cocaine from the Mexico border city of Juarez to El Paso, Texas, in hidden compartments in a Ford Mustang, officials say.
He is suspected of keeping some marijuana for himself and selling it for around $7,000, angering cartel leaders.
With Baca's killing, the Juarez cartel sought to send a message about drug rip-offs, police say.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he was "confident this dangerous fugitive will be brought to justice for the Baca family."
Veleta faces charges of murder, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, tampering and conspiracy. Court records do not say whether he has an attorney.
Three people suspected of being accomplices in the Baca killing also have been arrested.
Among them was Veleta's cousin, Mario Talavera, 35, a U.S. citizen who was tracked down by U.S. marshals and arrested by police in in the Mexican state of Chihuahua in 2015 and deported to New Mexico to face kidnapping and murder charges, according to the Albuquerque Journal .
Talavera pleaded guilty in 2016 to second-degree murder and kidnapping involving Baca.
This story corrects a previous version to say Pajarito Mesa is south of Albuquerque.