A high-ranking member of Mexico's Gulf Cartel received a 35-year prison sentence for his role as a "major transporter" of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, the DEA announced.
U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein sentenced Aurelio Cano Flores, 40, in Washington, D.C. today. Flores was known as "Yankee" and "Yeyo," a Spanish slang term for cocaine. Cano Flores was also ordered to forfeit $15 billion in drug proceeds.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Gulf Cartel distributed morethan 1.4 million kilograms of cocaine and 8,000 metric tons of marijuana. During that time, the cartel collected $15 billion in gross receipts from drug sales from its principal distribution centers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A federal jury convicted Cano Flores on Feb. 26 of one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Cano Flores was one of 19 defendants charged with drug trafficking offenses on Nov. 4, 2010. He was extradited from Mexico in August 2011.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence from intercepted telephone conversations between Cano Flores and other leaders of the Gulf Cartel, as well as testimony from previously convicted cartel members. Cano Flores began working for the Gulf Cartel in approximately 2001, while he was serving as a police officer in Mexico. During his time as a police officer, Cano Flores recruited others into the cartel, collected drug money, and escorted large shipments of cartel drugs to the border.
Cano Flores ultimately rose through the ranks of the Gulf Cartel to become a major transporter of narcotics within Mexico to the U.S. border and became the cartel's top representative in the border town of Los Guerra in Tamaulipas, according to the DEA. As the "plaza boss" for Los Guerra, Cano Flores oversaw the mass distribution of cocaine and marijuana into the United States on a daily basis.
Testimony established that between 2000 and 2010, the Gulf Cartel grew from an organization of only 100 members controlling three border towns to an organization of 25,000 people controlling the drug trade over approximately half of Mexico. As established during the trial, the means and methods of this conspiracy included corruption, murder, kidnapping and intimidation.