Mexican ex-cartel leader convicted in drug-trafficking ring that brought cocaine, marijuana into US

The former leader of Mexico’s Cartel Del Golfo, a criminal organization, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to an international drug trafficking conspiracy that brought cocaine and marijuana into the United States.

Jorge Costilla-Sanchez, 48, admitted to his role in a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 450 kilograms of cocaine and more than 90,000 kilograms of marijuana, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, aka "El Coss," is shown during a media presentation at the Mexican Navy's Center for Advanced Naval Studies in Mexico City.

Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, aka "El Coss," is shown during a media presentation at the Mexican Navy's Center for Advanced Naval Studies in Mexico City. (AP)

In 2003, Costilla-Sanchez became the leader of “The Company,” a collection of former military personnel that acted as security enforcers for the cartel.

For nearly 10 years, Costilla-Sanchez oversaw operations and provided leadership that resulted in thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana being imported into the U.S. The Company controlled multiple plazas along the U.S.-Mexico border that returned bulk U.S. currency to Costilla-Sanchez and other cartel members in Mexico.

Costilla-Sanchez also oversaw a vast network of local plaza bosses, drug couriers, security personnel, scouts, hitmen and others to facilitate drug trafficking operations, the DOJ said. To enforce operations, Costilla-Sanchez and his subordinates carried out numerous acts of violence against rival drug trafficking groups and law enforcement officials in Mexico.

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Costilla-Sanchez was arrested in September 2012. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to a separate conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, plus two counts of assault to a federal officer. The DOJ said he has not been sentenced for those offenses.

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Costilla-Sanchez faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr.