(Reuters) – Former Mexican drug kingpin Eduardo Arellano Felix, who pleaded guilty to laundering money for the notorious cartel that bore his family name, was sentenced yesterday in California to 15 years in prison in what law enforcement officials called the end of an era.
With the sentencing in U.S. District Court in San Diego, Arellano Felix, 56, became the last of four brothers killed or sent to prison in connection with the Arellano Felix drug trafficking ring, federal prosecutors said.
“The three living Arellano Felix brothers, who for decades lived as multi-millionaires while terrorizing the Southwest border, ordering assassinations and corrupting countless public officials are now confined to maximum security prison cells for a very long time. I urge others who aspire to take their place to take note,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.
The two brothers who authorities say served as leaders of the cartel, Benjamin Arellano Felix and Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, were convicted in the United States on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering. Benjamin Arellano Felix was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison and Francisco Javier Arellano Felix was given a life term.
Brother Ramon Arellano Felix, said to be the organization’s enforcer, was killed in a shootout with police in 2002.
Eduardo Arellano Felix, nicknamed “El Doctor,” pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds and one count of conspiring to invest that money for the cartel’s benefit.
Under his plea deal, he also agreed to forfeit $50 million.
He had faced a maximum of 140 years if convicted of the charges brought against him in an indictment, including racketeering and conspiracy to distribute and import marijuana and cocaine to the United States, although federal sentencing guidelines typically allow for less time. The indictment described him as a senior adviser to his brother Benjamin.