The former Mexican police officer and Juarez Cartel leader who ordered the murders of three U.S. Consulate officials in 2010 was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty today.

Jose Antonio Acosta-Hernandez, who was arrested in August, is the principal leader of the La Linea gang of traffickers and corrupt police officers serving as the enforcement arm for the Juárez Cartel. He is known as El Diego.

Acosta-Hernandez, 34, was extradited to the United States on March 16. He pleaded guilty to four counts of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering. He also pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder and weapons charges, which specifically related to the March 13, 2010 triple homicide in Juarez of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.

Immediately after the guilty plea hearing, Acosta-Hernandez was sentenced to seven concurrent life terms, three additional consecutive life terms, and 20 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone of the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division.

"Acosta-Hernandez is a cold-blooded murderer with no respect for human life or the rule of law," said Michele Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "His violent and deadly actions were put to a stop due to the combined efforts of U.S. law enforcement and the will of the Mexican government."

Acosta-Hernandez admitted that he directed or participated in more than 1,500 murders since 2008 to further a drug trafficking alliance with street gang Barrio Azteca.

For example, Acosta-Hernandez admitted that on Jan. 30, 2010, he ordered hit men in his organization to kill members of the opposition that were sighted at a daytime birthday party at a home in Juarez. As part of this incident, 16 individuals were killed and 10 individuals were wounded at three different residences in Juarez. On July 15, 2010, Acosta-Hernandez directed a car bombing in Juarez that ultimately killed four people.


Arrested Juarez Kingpin Ordered 1,500 Killings