Mexican drug boss sentenced to seven years in U.S. prison

MCALLEN, Texas Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:45pm EST

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MCALLEN, Texas (Reuters) - A top figure with a Mexican drug cartel was sentenced to seven years in a U.S. prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to immigration and weapons charges.

As part of a plea deal, Jose Luis Zuniga Hernandez, 44, admitted he was a leader of Mexico's brutal Gulf Cartel, a drug gang that authorities say has smuggled countless tons of narcotics into the United States.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Zuniga Hernandez, known as "El Wicho," in October 2011 near Brownsville, Texas, where he was sentenced on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.

Prosecutors said Zuniga Hernandez was in charge of the cartel's operations in Rio Bravo and Matamoros — two Mexican border towns key to the drug trade.

In court documents, prosecutors said Zuniga Hernandez paid $57,000 for a diamond, gold and ruby-encrusted .38-caliber handgun. After he was arrested, he attempted to bribe one of the agents with the jewel-encrusted gun, according to court records.

The agent declined the offer.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hanen ordered Zuniga Hernandez to pay a $10,000 fine.

The Gulf Cartel has battled its former paramilitary arm, known as Los Zetas, in northeast Mexico since they split in early 2010.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to curb the drug violence that raged under his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, who launched an offensive against drug cartels when he took office in late 2006.

Last month, the Mexican government estimated that some 70,000 people had died as a result of the drug war during Calderon's years in power.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Comments (2)
Loothor wrote:
7 years huh? That’s pathetic. I know a person who served 10 for dealing marijuana without any involvement in violence whatsoever.

It’s time to end our farcical drug laws and drug “war.” You really want to bring down violent cartels? Take away their market by legalizing and controlling drugs. Without a hugely profitable illegal product, there is no cartel.

Jan 24, 2013 8:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ballsy wrote:
Ok so he is in a US prison for 7 years….maybe.

He will get food 3 times a day, tv, exercise etc all at US taxpayer expense. In the mean time, he will direct business from his cell, make new friends and become more powerful as time goes by. Eventually he will be released and will still be a criminal.

A waste of money.

Jan 24, 2013 9:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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