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Mexican drug cartel 'lieutenant' arrested in Nebraska
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Mexican drug cartel 'lieutenant' arrested in Nebraska

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Nebraska authorities arrested a lieutenant in a Mexican drug cartel who has been on the run for four years, the Seward County Sheriff's Office said.

Jesus R. Buena-Peregrina, 39, was convicted of dealing 20 kilos of cocaine after being deported for prior felonies, according to a news release.

Authorities say he is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, sometimes described as the biggest international drug trafficking, money laundering, organized crime syndicate in the Western Hemisphere.

Wednesday afternoon, the Seward County Sheriff got a tip from Lancaster County Sheriff's deputies that Buena-Peregrina was passing through and pulled over the car in which he was a passenger. The car was westbound on Interstate 80, the news release said.

Deputies also arrested the woman driving the car, Vanessa E. Lopez-Pena, 27, also of Arizona, and are holding her on suspicion of being an accessory to a felony. The Seward County Sheriff's Office said she tried to conceal his identity but did not say how.

Deputies said they found a fake passport and IDs on Buena-Peregrina and took him and Lopez-Pena into custody, then notified federal authorities.

Both remained at the Seward County jail Thursday night.

Buena-Peregrina, a Mexican citizen, had been deported in 2002 and again in 2005 after he illegally re-entered the U.S. near Nogales, Arizona, according to federal court documents.

Named for the region of Mexico where it was founded, the Sinaloa Cartel is a coalition of drug lords working together, according to Insight Crime, which studies organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Local government reporter

Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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