The Americas

Mexican cartel founder gets 35 year sentence

A judge in Mexico sentenced a founding member of the Zetas drug cartel to 35 years in prison for kidnapping and organized crime activity, prosecutors announced Thursday

Zetas lieutenant Jaime Gonzalez Duran was known as "The Hummer" before he was arrested in the northern city of Reynosa in 2008. Prosecutors had called the army deserter one of Mexico's most dangerous criminal suspects.

The Attorney General's Office said that Gonzalez Duran had previously been sentenced to 16 1/2 years for money laundering and another 21 years for weapons possession.

At the time of his arrest, authorities found a cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 14 sticks of TNT in Reynosa believed to have been linked to him.

To confront continued drug cartel violence, the federal government has said the key is to clean up and professionalize Mexico's often antiquated, poorly equipped and corrupt state and local police.

However, the federal government reported Thursday that only about 25 percent of Mexico's 430,000 local and state police have been subjected to background and vetting tests.

The country also has about 57,000 federal police who have already been vetted.

The government says it will distribute 17.3 billion pesos ($137 million) to local forces this year, if they participate by carrying out tests for commanding officers.

Four states have already reached full background testing requirements; the other 17 states are expected to do so by January 2013.