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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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‘El Chapo’ Cohort Gets 15 Years for Drug Ring

SAN DIEGO (CN) — A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced one of the most wanted Mexican cartel drug traffickers who also had ties to "El Chapo" Guzman to 15 years in prison.

Victor Emilio Cazares Gastellum, 53, also known as "El Licenciado," was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Hayes for his role as the leader of a large-scale drug trafficking ring which moved drugs from Colombia and Venezuela through Central America to Mexico. The drugs were eventually smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Cazares was also ordered to forfeit $10 million in proceeds from his drug organization. He had already handed over $150,000 to the government as an initial payment prior to his sentencing, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The man admitted in his plea agreement he was the head of a large-scale, Mexico-based drug distribution organization called the "Cazares Organization." He claimed responsibility for distributing more than 450 kilograms of cocaine, or nearly 1,000 pounds, in Southern California, according to prosecutors.

The drug kingpin was extradited to San Diego earlier this year. He was indicted during a 22-month sting called "Operation Imperial Emperor" which resulted in the nationwide arrests of 402 people suspected of working for the cartel. More than $45 million in cash and tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana were seized during the sting, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Cazares is believed to have ties to infamous cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, former leader of the notoriously violent Sinaloa drug cartel.

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