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Originally published Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 9:02 AM

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Mexican drug cartel suspect grew up in Tieton, WA

A man accused of leading a violent drug cartel in Mexico grew up in central Washington and committed crimes in the town of Tieton before he was deported, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Wednesday.

The Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. —

A man accused of leading a violent drug cartel in Mexico grew up in central Washington and committed crimes in the town of Tieton before he was deported, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Wednesday.

Martin Omar Estrada Luna, 34, is remembered by Tieton Police Chief Jeff Ketchum from the 1990s.

"I would label Martin as a career criminal. He got away with a lot of stuff. He got named in a lot of stuff, but you could never pin it on him," Ketchum said.

Estrada Luna acknowledged being a gang member, Ketchum said. His nickname was "El Kilo," according to court records.

Mexican authorities arrested Estrada Luna in a house Saturday in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. They presented him Sunday in Mexico City as a leader of the Los Zetas cartel, blamed for killing more than 200 people found in mass graves. Some of the victims were passengers pulled off buses, possibly as part of a forced recruitment effort.

Yakima County records show Estrada Luna falling into the gang life instead of making it to school with any sort of regularity. He could have graduated in 1995 but he pleaded guilty that year to second-degree burglary in connection with the theft of a car from the school district. The judge ordered him not to have any contact with district schools as part of the plea.

Yakima County Superior Court records listed him as unemployed.

Beside the burglary, his adult felony convictions in Yakima County include brandishing a knife in Tieton.

When Estrada Luna was sentenced in 2006 for an immigration violation, federal prosecutors pointed out that he had managed to amass 16 felony and misdemeanor convictions.

Estrada Luna was ultimately sentenced to 41 months for returning to the United States a third time after being deported twice before.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday that he was deported in 2009 from Reno, Nev., after completing his sentence.

The ICE database shows no contact with Estrada Luna since that last deportation.

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Information from: Yakima Herald-Republic, http://www.yakimaherald.com

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