Mexico sentences former Juarez cartel leader to 28 years in prison

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Victente Carrillo Fuentes found guilty of organized crime, drug, weapons and money laundering charges; U.S. still wants him to answer federal charges in New York

Alleged Mexican drug trafficker Vicente Carrillo Fuentes is escorted by a police officer in Mexico City on October 9, 2014. Carrillo Fuentes, alias “El Viceroy,” was arrested by federal police in Torreon, a city in the northern state of Coahuila, a spokesman for the national security commission told AFP. The United States had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of the 51-year-old drug lord. (RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A Mexican judge has sentenced former Juarez cartel leader and cofounder Vicente Carrillo Fuentes to 28 years in prison, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office reports.

Carrillo Fuentes, a.k.a. “Viceroy,” has been in jail in Mexico since his 2014 arrest in Coahuila on organized crime and drug charges. His brother, Amado, in the mid-90s built what U.S. authorities at the time said was the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world. Amado Carrillo Fuentes was known as “The Lord of the Skies” for using a fleet of cargo airplanes to move cocaine from South America and tons of marijuana from Southern Mexico to clandestine airstrips just south of the U.S. border.

Authorities said Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, now 58, inherited his brother’s empire, which was displaced by the Sinaloa cartel and other groups shortly after Amado’s 1997 death during a botched plastic surgery session.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (Department of Justice file photo)

The 28-year sentence against Vicente Carrillo Fuentes encompasses charges ranging from organized crime, drugs, money laundering and stockpiling firearms, the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

The sentence came almost seven years after his arrest because of numerous legal maneuvers by the reputed drug lord to prevent a conviction, Mexican media reported.

Border Report reached out to the Drug Enforcement Administration office in El Paso for confirmation but was told they had no information on developments in Mexico.

Carrillo Fuentes is under federal indictment on the Eastern District of New York on charges of running a continuing criminal enterprise, firearms offenses and other drug-related crimes as the leader of the Juarez cartel.

“Vicente Carrillo Fuentes was responsible for importing thousands of kilograms of poisonous cocaine into the United States, conspiring to murder his organization’s rivals and reaping tens of millions of dollars in drug trafficking profits,” then-U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in 2019. “This indictment and our determination to bring him to justice demonstrates, once again, that if you are ruthless enough and dumb enough to run a Mexican drug cartel, we have an American jail cell waiting for you.”

A $5 million reward hangs over Carrillo Fuentes’ head in the United States.

The Juarez cartel ceased to exist as such after a protracted losing battle with the Sinaloa cartel. But remnants of the organization have reconstituted into La Linea, a powerful drug trafficking organization with influence over other groups in the northern state of Chihuahua. La Linea is led by Jesus Venzor Salas Aguayo, U.S. authorities and private intelligence experts said recently.

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