SAN DIEGO (CN) - Three cartel members were sentenced Wednesday to long prison terms for conspiring to kidnap San Diego drug dealers and torture them to death in Mexico for drug debts.
Carlos Alberto Andrade De La Cruz, 36, of Tijuana, was sentenced to 130 months in prison.
Luis Miguel Salas Rodriguez, 26, and Antonio Zermeno Garcia, 30, both of San Diego, were each sentenced to 92 months.
The men suspected San Diego dealers of stealing their meth, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
"The defendants were arrested in San Diego after the leader of this plot, defendant Andrade De La Cruz, illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico and met the others in front of the home of the first intended victim," the U.S. attorney said.
The FBI tapped the phone of one of the defendants after learning of a plot to kidnap and extort three U.S. drug dealers.
"Wiretaps revealed that Zermeno Garcia told his conspirators that a debtor could be turned into 'pozole' - a term used by drug cartels to describe a 'soup' made by dissolving a human body in acid," the U.S. attorney said in the statement.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge William Hayes called the defendants "cold blooded," and said he believed they had every intention of taking their victims to Mexico to exact violence.
They were sentenced for conspiracy to kidnap, which is punishable by up to life in prison.
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