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.
It was all the buzz then, and four decades later people are still crazy over Star Wars. The original film opened 40-years ago this weekend and it was an instant sensation. News 8's Eric Kahnert went into our own archives to take us back to that day in history.
News 8's new mother Shannon Handy was walking with her mommy group Friday morning at Torrey Pines when an unexpected baby joined the group. Take a look!
Some people tell their kids to go for the gold. On Friday in Carlsbad, that's just what students did at La Costa Meadows Elementary.
The remains of a U.S. Navy pilot killed when his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War have been brought to San Diego for burial.
A 14-year-old Steele Canyon High School student was arrested for allegedly sending a threatening message to another student at the Spring Valley-area campus via Snapchat.
San Diego's crime rate in the first four months of this year was the lowest since at least 1990, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Friday.
The city of Chula Vista is honoring the lives of fallen members of the military and is dedicating seven new streets named for those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If you think it's hard to sleep during warm nights now, it'll get worse in the future as the effects of climate change take hold, according to a study released Friday by UC San Diego.
Cool and cloudy conditions start off Friday morning, but the sun will break through in the afternoon. Strong winds in San Diego County's deserts are also expected to ease up Friday morning.