Kingpin, ex-ally of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, whose arrest set off Mexico’s drug war, sentenced to life in prison in U.S.

4/5/2017 The Washington Post

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U.S. Law Enforcement/AP

A Mexican cartel leader once allied with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world’s most notorious drug lord, was sentenced Wednesday in Washington to life in prison and a $529 million forfeiture.

Alfredo “El Mochomo” Beltrán-Leyva and his brothers once ran an organization that served as the armed wing of Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s most powerful drug syndicate, court files show. But El Mochomo’s capture by Mexican special forces in 2008 — which Mexican federal officials said his siblings blamed on Guzmán — launched a string of shadowy betrayals between the groups and detonated a bloody drug war with effects that haunt Mexico nearly a decade later.

Now, U.S. prosecutors have closed in on both kingpins. The prosecution of Beltrán-Leyva, who pleaded guilty last year, offers a tantalizing glimpse of the U.S. government’s long pursuit of Guzmán, including a shared cast of cooperating witnesses and a trail of escalating financial penalties including plea deals to hand over billions in illegal gains.

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