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U.S. targeting suspected leader of drug cartel

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The suspected head of one of Mexico's most powerful drug rings is being hunted by U.S. authorities as well as by police in his own country.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes seized control of the Juarez cartel after the death last year of his older brother, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, and the Sept. 10 slaying of rival Rafael Munoz Talavera, federal officials said Wednesday.A drug trafficking indictment against Carrillo was unsealed Tues-day, more than a year after it was issued, the FBI said.

"We want to extend our invitation to Vicente Carrillo Fuentes to surrender. The jails in the United States are not that bad," said Dave Alba, special agent in charge of the FBI office in El Paso.

The Juarez cartel has been one of the strongest Mexican drug rings in recent years, earning tens of millions of dollars from shipments funneled through El Paso to Dallas, New York and Chicago.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of $56.5 million by Carillo. It is being released publicly because "it's been deemed important for us to now seek the public's support," said Bill Blagg, U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas. "It seemed like the right time to do it."

Carrillo, 36, is now ranked by authorities in the upper echelon of Mexican drug lords that includes Tijuana's notorious Arellano Felix brothers.

Carrillo faces life in prison and millions in fines if convicted on 26 trafficking, possession and money-laundering charges stemming from an investigation that originally targeted his brother.