One of Mexico’s top drug traffickers, who used to be a close associate of famed capo Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman before turning into his bitter rival, has pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges in a U.S. federal courtroom.
On Tuesday, Alfredo “El Mochomo” or “Desert Ant” Beltran Leyva went before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington D.C. and submitted a guilty plea to his role as the leader of a Mexican drug cartel responsible for moving ton quantities of narcotics into the United States, a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed.
Leyva, 45, was indicted on Aug. 24, 2012, for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine for importation into the United States. In 2008, Beltran Leyva was captured by Mexican authorities. He was later extradited to the U.S. on Nov. 15, 2014.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice:
In court, the defendant admitted that he was part of a conspiracy to import large quantities of drugs into the United States. At the hearing, the government proffered evidence that from 1990 until his arrest in January 2008, the defendant was a leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a global criminal enterprise that was responsible for importing multi-ton quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States. Beltran Leyva admitted that he and his organization obtained tonnage quantities of cocaine from South American suppliers, which the defendant and his organization helped finance and which were transported to Mexico via air, land and sea.
Once the cocaine reached Mexico, the defendant’s organization transported it to central key points in Mexico, including to Culiacan, Sinaloa, which was also the central point for the collection of billions of dollars from drug trafficking proceeds in the United States. Additionally, the government’s evidence would have shown that the organization carried out acts of violence, including murders, kidnappings, tortures and violent collections of drug debts, in order to sustain the drug importation operation. Further, the government’s evidence would have shown that the organization made payments to public officials to ensure that the organization’s drug shipments passed through Mexico uninhibited.
Prior to his arrest, Beltran Leyva and his brothers led a criminal organization with close ties to the Sinaloa Cartel led by Guzman Loera. Beltran Leyva had been close associate of El Chapo until his arrest at which time frictions between the Beltran Leyva’s and the Sinaloa Cartel led to a split resulting in a bloody struggle. The Beltran Leyva’s have sought the help of Sinaloa’s rivals the Juarez Cartel and Los Zetas but the rivalries continue to this day. It remains unclear if federal prosecutors will use Beltran Leyva as a possible witness against El Chapo if they are able to extradite him to America to stand trial.