LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A U.S. judge sentenced the former number two leader of the Tijuana drug cartel, Eduardo Arellano Felix, to 15 years in prison Monday after he pleaded guilty to money laundering.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said Arellano’s crimes had “terrible effects … And for that, you should be ashamed.”
Arellano Felix entered a guilty plea as part of a deal with prosecutors under which he also agreed to pay $50 million.
Known as “the Doctor,” the 56-year-old Arellano Felix is a brother of the founder of the Tijuana cartel, based across the border from San Diego.
He was arrested after a firefight with Mexican authorities in October 2008 and extradited to the United States a year ago.
He had initially pleaded “not guilty,” but changed his plea in May.
His brothers Eduardo, Francisco Javier and Benjamin Arellano Felix are all serving prison terms in the United States.
Burns backed a request by defense attorneys that Arrellano Felix be imprisoned in Florida with his brother Benjamin, the leader of the cartel during its heydey in the 1990s.
The group once dominated the smuggling of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs between Mexico and California, and was the inspiration for the Steven Soderbergh movie “Traffic.”
Weakened by arrests, the cartel is now thought to be run by the brothers’ sister Enedina and her son Fernando, known as “The Engineer.”
Violence linked to drug trafficking and organized crime has left more than 70,000 dead in Mexico over the past six years.