Mexican Man Sentenced For Role In Deadly Drug Cartel

A key lieutenant in the Arellano-Felix drug cartel who pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $1 million.

Gilberto Higuera-Guerrero, 39, pleaded guilty April 27.

His brother, Ismael Higuera-Guerrero, 46, pleaded guilty in March to racketeering charges and was sentenced two weeks ago to 40 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $5 million.

In connection with his plea, Gilberto Higuera-Guerrero admitted that from about 1988 to his arrest in May 2000, he was the AFO's top lieutenant, acting at the direction of the AFO's principal leaders, the Arellano-Felix brothers, coordinating the receipt of multi-ton cocaine shipments in Mexico, and importing that cocaine into the United States.

Ismael Higuera-Guerrero admitted that he supervised other upper-echelon AFO lieutenants, including his brother, and oversaw the AFO's day-to-day operations.

Both Ismael and Gilberto Higuera-Guerrero admitted to involvement in the collection of AFO drug trafficking proceeds, and the "policing" of the Tijuana/Mexicali "plazas," including the kidnapping and murder of AFO enemies.

The one-time leader of the AFO cartel, Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, pleaded guilty to operating a criminal enterprise, money laundering and ordering the murders of informants, law enforcement personnel and others. He was sentenced Nov. 5 to life in prison without parole.

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