WASHINGTON — Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the former leader of the violent Mexican drug-trafficking cartel that for roughly three decades moved tons of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States, was sentenced Wednesday to life in federal prison.
The 47-year-old kingpin, clean-shaven and contrite Wednesday, cut a markedly different appearance in court from the brash narco who was extradited from Mexico more than two years ago before pleading guilty last year to the global trafficking conspiracy.
“I ask forgiveness for the behavior that brought me here,” Beltran-Leyva said softly in Spanish from a courtroom podium. “And I apologize to God — the highest authority — and to my children… I ask you to have mercy on me and let me one day return to my family.”
Beltran-Leyva’s attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to impose a 25-year term, arguing that his client had accepted responsibility for his actions. But Leon rejected the argument, saying that he had never “seen a case of this magnitude.”
“You have come to the end of a long road, a long road that is filled with violence,” Leon told the convicted trafficker standing before him in a khaki prison jumpsuit. “There is no question about the seriousness of your conduct here.”
Federal prosecutors alleged that between the early 1990s until his indictment in 2014, Beltran Leyva’s far-flung network tapped drug suppliers in South America to satisfy an unrelenting appetite in the United States in exchange for billions of dollars in proceeds.
The lucrative operation operation, federal prosecutors said, also was sustained by murder, kidnappings, torture and other…
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