| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The suspected head of a Mexican drug
cartel that U.S. authorities said was responsible for
distributing tons of cocaine into the Unit-ed States and Europe
before being arrested in 2014 pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
Tirso Martinez-Sanchez, 49, pleaded guilty in federal court
in Brooklyn to distributing cocaine with the intention that it
would be imported into the United States, according to his
The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years
in prison and a maximum of life, though under an extradition
agreement with Mexico, the U.S. government has agreed to not
seek a life term, said Peter Quijano, Martinez-Sanchez's lawyer.
Prosecutors said Martinez-Sanchez was the leader of an
extensive international narcotics organization that was
responsible for importing and distributing tens of thousands of
kilograms (pounds) of cocaine.
Prosecutors said the organization obtained cocaine from
Colombian sources and Martinez-Sanchez organized its importation
into the United States using an network of trains, tractor
trailers, and other vehicles.
The U.S. State Department, which had offered a $5 million
reward for information that could lead to his capture, has said
the group brought 76 tons of cocaine into the United States from
2000 to 2003 and also distributed cocaine into Europe.
Once the drugs were in the United States, Martinez-Sanchez
directed members of his organization to transport it to large
distribution centers in areas including Los Angeles, New York,
and Chicago, prosecutors said.
He utilized a network of large warehouses to store and
distribute the cocaine in the United States, which were bought
or leased using a number of front companies, prosecutors said.
Martinez-Sanchez invested proceeds from his narcotics
activities in a number of ventures, including purchase of
professional soccer teams and a chain of high-end clothing
boutiques, prosecutors said.
He was arrested in Mexico in February 2014 and extradited to
the United States in December 2015.