ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Head of cartel-linked cocaine ring also fined and ordered to forfeit two El Paso homes.
A Mexican citizen that U.S. government prosecutors say headed a cocaine-trafficking ring tied to the Juarez cartel was sentenced Wednesday to life in a U.S. prison, the El Paso Times reported.
Rigoberto Melero Aguirre, 47, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo to pay a $1 million fine and forfeit two homes in El Paso, the Times said.
Melero Aguirre pleaded guilty last March to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and prosecutors said he hwas the head of a cocaine-trafficking organization that had distributed more than 6 tons of cocaine since 2006, the paper reported.
Melero Aguirre admitted managing a network of dozens of people who imported cocaine from Mexico into El Paso, then into the rest of Texas, New Mexico and ultimately New York, the Times said.
He also directed tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds from the United States into Mexico, according to prosecutors.
One of Melero Aguirre’s codefendants, Julio Cesar Burciaga, also faces a life sentence when he is sentenced on Jan. 21 after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, the Times said.
Four other codefendants in the case have begun serving federal prison sentences, the paper reported.