DALLAS (CN) – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the boss of the La Familia Michoacan drug cartel whose arrest led to the revenge killing of 12 Mexican police officers to over 43 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade sentenced Arnoldo Rueda-Medina, 48, in Dallas and ordered him to pay $5 million in fines – an amount the judge acknowledged was a “drop in the bucket.”
Known as “La Minsa,” Rueda-Medina pleaded guilty in September 2017 to one count of conspiracy with intent to distribute drugs and one count of conspiracy to launder money. The judge ordered a 520-month sentence on the drug charge and 240 months on the conspiracy charge, to run concurrently.
Mexican authorities extradited Rueda-Medina to the United States in January after arresting him in the state of Michoacan in July 2009.
An unidentified Mexican federal police officer testified Wednesday that he will never get over the “cowardly assassination” of his fellow officers after Rueda-Medina’s arrest.
Prosecutors say cartel members unsuccessfully tried to free Rueda-Medina after his arrest, attacking the police station where he was held and engaging in a firefight with police on the streets of Morelia in Michoacan.
“On July 13, 2009, a group of 12 officers were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. A note found at the scene where the bodies were dumped stated ‘Vengan por otro, los estamos esperando’ (‘Come for another, we are waiting for you’),” prosecutors said in a written statement. “At least four other officers and two Mexican Marines were killed by LFM operatives responding to the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda-Medina.”
Formed in the 1980s, La Familia Michoacan is accused of producing thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine in laboratories in Michoacan. The cartel then smuggles the drugs into stash houses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area through border checkpoints near Tijuana, Mexico, and Laredo, Texas, according to court filings.
“The drug proceeds that were collected were delivered to cartel members or associates in Mexico either by way of bulk cash smuggling in vehicles utilized by LFM couriers or through money remitters such as Western Union,” prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox thanked Mexican authorities for their “critical assistance and sacrifice” in the case.
Prosecutors say Rueda-Medina was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2010 under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which blocked all of his property subject to U.S. jurisdiction and virtually froze all of his assets. The law also bans American citizens and companies from doing business with him.