(Reuters) - A suspected top official in a Mexican criminal cartel was arraigned in a federal court in California on Monday on drug trafficking charges after he surrendered to U.S. law enforcement authorities in July, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Damaso Lopez-Serrano, 29, also known as "Mini Lic," an accused cell leader of the Sinaloa cartel, was believed to be the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leader to surrender to authorities in the United States, the department said in a statement.
He was arraigned on an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in San Diego on Aug. 19, 2016, charging him and five associates with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances intended for importation and conspiracy to import controlled substances, it said.
A lawyer for the suspect was not immediately available for comment.
The three-count indictment said that the suspect knowingly conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. Prosecutors were not immediately available to comment on what length of sentence he could face if convicted.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Frank McGurty and Andrew Hay)