Two members of a notoriously powerful Mexican organized crime gang may spend the remainder of their lives in a U.S. federal penitentiary, according to a Texas law enforcement source on Friday.
Los Zetas hitman Gerardo Castillo-Chavez, aka “Cachetes” or “Armado Garcia,” and Eduardo Carreon-Ibarra, aka “Negro,” have been sent to federal prison for many years following their multiple convictions stemming from a lengthy Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in Laredo, Texas.
The 26-year-old Castillo-Chavez, a resident of Tamaulipas, Mexico, was convicted on all counts as charged following five days of trial on Jan. 25, 2012. The Zetas member was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 40 years.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Carreon-Ibarra, a Laredo native, and pleaded guilty on June 1, 2012. On Friday, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison to run consecutively to his previous 20-year sentence.
Los Zetas is considered the most powerful of all the Mexican drug cartels, with members who allegedly served in the military and Mexican police. During the trial of the hitman Castillo-Chavez, jurors heard testimony outlining murders and links to the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas.
After deliberating for only six hours, the jury convicted him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.
Carreon-Ibarra pleaded guilty to interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez , who presided over the trial and the plea agreement, handed Castillo-Chavez and Carreon-Ibarra their lengthy sentences. At the hearing, the court reviewed the evidence and testimony presented during the trial and Castillo-Chavez was ordered to pay a $8,000 fine in addition to his lengthy prison sentence.
The charges stemmed from a Feb. 17, 2010, indictment charging Castillo-Chavez and 33 others with 47 counts of conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact, solicitation, as well as money laundering, drug trafficking, and ITAR charges.
During the five-day trial, jurors heard testimony from several Los Zetas hitmen who committed murders in Laredo, Texas, as well as Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Their shocking testimony outlined murders and attempted murders committed by “sicario” (assassin) cells in Laredo between June 2005 and April 2006. The prosecutor also presented telephone interceptions that described in detail the gruesome murders and disposal of the bodies of two U.S. citizens kidnapped and killed in Nuevo Laredo.
Their testimony also implicated Castillo-Chavez, or “Cachetes,” in the double murder of two males on Apr. 2, 2006, the attempted murders of two others in March 2006 and in the grenade attack of a nightclub in Monterrey, Mexico, where four people were killed.
Castillo-Chavez and Carreon-Ibarra will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.