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Mexican cartel leader pleads guilty

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Miguel Angel Caro-Quintero pleads guilty on drug trafficking charges
  • Caro-Quintero faces up to 20 years in prison
  • Caro-Quintero's brother, Rafael, currently in prison for death of DEA agent
  • Mexico
  • Illegal Drugs

Washington (CNN) -- A Mexican cartel leader, best known as the brother of the man who killed DEA Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, pleaded guilty in Denver, Colorado, to drug trafficking charges on Friday.

Nearly 20 years after his indictment, Miguel Angel Caro-Quintero, 46, admitted trafficking more than 100 tons of marijuana, and sending more than $100 million to Mexico. Caro-Quintero, who faces between 10 to 20 years, is scheduled for sentencing on February 4.

He faces up to five more years for drug charges in Arizona, stemming from a 1994 indictment.

Caro-Quintero was arrested in Sinaloa, Mexico, in 2001 and extradited to Colorado in February after spending eight years in custody for weapons crimes in Mexico.

"Today's guilty plea demonstrates the Justice Department's willingness to pursue drug kingpins no matter how long ago they were charged with a crime," said U.S. Attorney David Gaoette in Denver.

Rafael Caro-Quintero, the defendant's older brother, is serving a 40-year prison sentence in Mexico for Camarena's murder in 1985.