US-born cartel figure pleads guilty in San Diego

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Associated Press

Posted on September 27, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 27 at 11:00 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S.-born lieutenant of a Mexican cartel that smuggles drugs to California has pleaded guilty in San Diego to criminal charges in an agreement with prosecutors to limit his prison sentence to 30 years.

Armando Villareal Heredia pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He acknowledges in his plea agreement that he participated in murder, kidnappings and the smuggling of methamphetamine.

The 35-year-old can be sentenced to a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, but prosecutors agreed to ask for 30 years.

Villareal was extradited from Mexico last year to face charges. Known as "Gordo" — or "Fatty" in English — he was arrested in 2011 at the request of U.S. officials.

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