SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A high-ranking member of the Arellano Felix drug cartel who acted as an intermediary between the AFO and Colombian cocaine traffickers supplying drugs to the Mexican drug organization pleaded guilty Thursday to federal racketeering charges.
Rigoberto Yanez-Guerrero, who was extradited from Mexico to the United States last December, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 3 by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.
In a hearing Thursday before Magistrate Barbara Major, Yanez admitted that between 1995 and his arrest in March 2001, he worked for a top AFO lieutenant, serving as a point of contact with Colombian cocaine traffickers wishing to do business with the Mexican drug cartel.
Yanez, 42, also admitted that he helped with the importation and distribution of "many tons" of cocaine into the United States from Baja California. The defendant admitted that he personally participated in the shipment of 5-to-10 tons of cocaine.
As part of his plea, the defendant also agreed to forfeit up to $1 million in proceeds from the criminal enterprise.
Yanez told Major that he participated in the drug conspiracy "indirectly" and didn't have any money or profits from the operation.
The defendant admitted that the AFO obstructed the investigation into its illegal activities by bribing law enforcement and military personnel.
He pleaded guilty to conducting the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.
Long reputed to be one of the most notorious multi-national drug trafficking organizations, the AFO controlled the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs through the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali into the United States. Its operations also extended into southern Mexico and Colombia.
According to authorities, the Arellano Felix cartel -- run by four brothers, Benjamin, Eduardo, Javier and Ramon -- monopolized routes for illegal drugs through Tijuana to the United States for more than 20 years.
Ramon Arellano Felix, the organization's top enforcer, was killed in a shootout in Mexico in 2002. Javier Arellano Felix, captured in 2006, is serving a life sentence in the United States. Eduardo Arellano Felix was captured in 2008 after a shootout in Tijuana and U.S. authorities are still seeking his extradition.
Benjamin Arellano Felix, once considered the financial operator of the AFO, was extradited to San Diego recently after spending nine years in a Mexican prison.
A 27-year-old man suffered fatal injuries as the result of a "punching game'' inside of a bar Saturday morning in the Gaslamp
neighborhood of San Diego.
SANDAG began removing call boxes along urban highways throughout the San Diego region this month and will continue to do so through June, reflecting a decrease in call volume due to the increase in cell phone ownership.
Authorities today announced that police have arrested a suspect in connection with Friday's sexual assault on the campus of San Diego Mesa College. The name of the suspect was not immediately released.
Showers will be mostly light Saturday morning, decreasing into early Saturday afternoon. Another round of showers expected to push through late afternoon ending late Saturday night.
Police Chief David Nisleit Friday strongly disavowed what he described as an unofficial, "never authorized" departmental program that rewarded officers for making narcotics arrests.
On Friday, San Diego Police announced their search for a suspect involved in a robbery off the San Diego State University campus.
A court-appointed receiver has taken control of a Pacific Beach "hoarder house" that has accumulated trash, created unsafe conditions for children and harbored vermin in recent years, the San Diego City Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The owners of Hauser's Patio reached out to News 8 Friday morning asking to be put in contact with the couple who had their furniture stolen from their patio in Pacific Beach this week.