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Mexican Drug Lord Pleads Guilty in US Court


Drug trafficker Benjamin Arellano Felix is shown the day of his arrest inside of his house in Puebla, Mexico, March 9, 2002 (file photo)

Drug trafficker Benjamin Arellano Felix is shown the day of his arrest inside of his house in Puebla, Mexico, March 9, 2002 (file photo)

Once-powerful Mexican drug lord Benjamin Arellano Felix has pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court to charges of racketeering and conspiracy to launder money.

Arellano Felix entered the plea Wednesday in San Diego, California. As part of the 17-page agreement, Arellano Felix admitted smuggling tons of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. and conspiring to launder millions of dollars. The deal also calls for him to forfeit $100 million in profits. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when sentenced April 2.

Arellano Felix headed the Tijuana, Mexico-based cartel bearing his name. Mexican authorities say he led the cartel with some of his brothers from the 1980s until his arrest in Mexico in 2002. Arellano Felix was extradited to the United States in April of last year.

He is one of the highest-profile cartel members extradited to the U.S. under the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug-related violence since President Calderon took office in December 2006 and began cracking down on the cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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