Mexican drug cartel boss sentenced to life in prison

Mexican drug cartel leader Alfredo Beltran Levya was sentenced Wednesday in federal court.

Story highlights

  • Alfredo Beltran Leyva once aligned to Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
  • A federal judge also ordered him to forfeit over $500 million

Washington (CNN)A Mexican cartel boss once aligned with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and referred to by authorities as one of the "Goliaths" of drug traffickers was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for his involvement in an international drug ring.

Alfredo Beltran Leyva, also known as Mochomo, was a kingpin behind the Beltran Leyva Organization -- a Mexican drug-trafficking cartel prosecutors say is responsible for importing substantial quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into the US.
US District Court Judge Richard Leon handed down the life sentence, along with a $529,200,000 forfeiture amount based on an "extremely conservative" estimate of the amount of cocaine Beltran Leyva moved to the border for importation to the US.
Beltran Leyva, 46, appeared for his sentencing in federal court in Washington, DC, Wednesday afternoon, unshackled and in a tan jumpsuit. In a translated allocution, Beltran Leyva apologized to the judge for the "behavior that brought me here."
"I have told the truth before you. I accept the responsibility that I helped by brother Arturo sell cocaine in Culiacán, knowing that it was coming to the US, but I have never sent one kilogram to the US," he said.
Leon denied an attempt by the defense team to reduce the sentencing range, saying that Beltran Leyva had not accepted responsibility for his actions and "sought to avoid responsibility to the extent that he could."
The judge said he had not "seen a case of this magnitude in this circuit."
Under his plea agreement, Beltran Leyva admitted that his cartel helped finance and obtain multi-ton shipments of South American cocaine for close to two decades. The drugs were transported to Culiacan, Sinaloa and other points in Mexico, where billions of dollars in US drug proceeds also were collected, according to prosecutors.
"Today's sentencing marks an end to Alfredo Beltran Leyva's reign of terror, and demonstrates that the FBI and our law enforcement partners around the globe will aggressively pursue and bring justice to those individuals who use violence and intimidation to threaten our communities," said Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division in a statement.
Beltran Leyva was indicted back in 2012 and extradited from Mexico to the US in 2014.