FILE - This image provided by Mexico's Federal Public Safety Department, SSP, shows wanted drug-kingpin Eduardo Arellano Felix, leader of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix cartel. Credit: AP
Drug Czar Eduardo Arellano-Felix, known as "El Doctor" -- the head of the Arellano-Felix Organization, was sentenced Monday to 15 years in U.S. federal prison for serving as the chief financial officer for one of Mexico's most deadly organizations.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Arellano-Felix, 56, was sentenced after pleading guilty in May to charges of conspiracy to launder money and use illicit drug profits. On October 25, 2008, he was arrested after a gun battle with Mexican law enforcement. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2010, according to the report.
According to the plea agreement, "El Doctor" used his drug-trafficking proceeds to pay drug cartel members to do his dirty work. He would have them commit crimes, buy firearms, pay bribes and purchase drugs.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns said although there was no evidence directly linking Arellano-Felix to kidnapping and killings, he was "still an integral part" and "fully aware of the methods" used by the narcotics organization.
Arellano-Felix, one of four brothers, was a central figure in the cartel. He would advise "his brothers as they orchestrated the importation of hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, ordered the kidnap and murder of numerous people, and directed the widespread corruption of law enforcement and military personnel in Mexico," according to a sentencing memorandum.
In the plea deal, he agreed to forfeit $50 million. Without the plea deal, he was looking at a possible maximum sentence of 140 years, according to news reports.
The Arellano- Felix cartel controlled the drug trade from their home base in Tijuana, Mexico starting in 1986. The cartel continued to operate with various family members taking control of the operations. Two of Arellano-Felix's brothers, Benjamin and Francisco Javier, are now in U.S. federal prison for racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Another brother, Ramon Arellano-Felix, was killed in a shootout with police in Mexico in 2002.