Jurisdiction question stalls US sentencing for cocaine conspirator linked to violent cartel

Lawyers for a man convicted of working for one of the world's most notorious drug cartels say the U.S. had no jurisdiction to bring the case because the drugs weren't intended for distribution in or through there.

Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela is a member of Mexico's violent Sinaloa cartel. He was convicted in October of conspiracy to distribute more than 2,200 pounds of cocaine, plus methamphetamine and heroin, in the U.S.

He was to be sentenced Monday, but his lawyers filed a late motion challenging the jurisdiction.

Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith (feeth) countered that Valenzuela was at a meeting in which conspirators discussed shipping drugs through U.S. ports to Europe.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph Laplante postponed sentencing in New Hampshire until the jurisdiction question is settled.