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Mexican drug kingpin gets 25 years in U.S. prison

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Mexican drug kingpin gets 25 years in U.S. prison

Former leader of Tijuana cartel must forfeit $100M under plea deal

  • UnivisionSanDiego screengrab

Former leader of Mexico's Tijuana drug cartel Benjamin Arellano Felix, 58, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in U.S. prison and ordered to forfeit $100 million, reported CNN.

In January, Felix pleaded guilty in a San Diego federal court to charges of running the organization.

Arellano Felix admitted in the plea agreement that he headed the cartel — which bears his family name — that turned Tijuana into a major drug-trafficking corridor into the United States, according to the Los Angeles Times. He tried to back out of the agreement during Monday's one-hour hearing, saying his sentence should be reduced because of the prison time he served in Mexico and that his extradition violated international law.

"They're accusing me of things others did and holding me responsible for those things," he said rapidly in Spanish.

Arellano Felix's cartel raised drug violence to a new level in Tijuana and was known for trying to hide bodies by dissolving them in drums of chemicals or burning them in the desert, reported The Washington Post.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns told the court the drug lord deserved a life sentence for harming the United States and Mexico in a "profound" way, but he could not impose one because the plea deal set 25 years as the maximum sentence.

According to The Washington Post, Arellano Felix and his late-brother, Ramon, the cartel's top enforcer, ruled the family's criminal enterprise from 1986 to 2002.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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