Corruption Case Dampens Diplomatic Victory of Mexico Kingpin’s Sentencing in US

4/6/2017 InSight Crime

Getty Images/AFP/Omar Torres

A former leader of Mexico’s Beltrán Leyva Organization was sentenced to life in prison in a US court, but this diplomatic victory was quickly overshadowed by allegations that a Mexican police commander had worked for years to undermine US investigations of cartel leaders.

A federal judge in Washington, DC sentenced Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, a former leader of Mexico’s Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO), to life in prison on April 5. Judge Richard J. Leon also ordered the forfeiture of $529 million, a fraction of the $10 billion fortune that prosecutors estimate the BLO amassed between 2000 and 2012 by trafficking tons of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States, according to the Washington Post.

A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official called Beltrán Leyva a “Goliath” in the world of Mexican drug trafficking, reported the Los Angeles Times. Judge Leon said he was “a leader of one of the largest drug cartels in the world.”

Beltrán Leyva was extradited to the United States in November 2014 following a lengthy legal battle on the part of his lawyers to keep him in Mexico. According to the Post, he pleaded guilty in February 2016 without an agreement in place that could have lowered his sentence in exchange for information on other drug traffickers.

Meanwhile in Chicago, authorities unsealed a criminal complaint against former Mexican police commander Ivan Reyes Arzate for allegedly leaking information to cartel leaders who were under investigation by the DEA. A statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois said Reyes was “the principal point of contact for information being shared between U.S. law enforcement and the Mexican Federal Police.”

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