The boss of a Colombian drug cartel that smuggled billions of dollars
worth of cocaine into the United States and terrorized people into
silence has pleaded guilty to murder, drug trafficking and racketeering
Forty-eight year old Diego Montoya, also known as "Don Diego," made his plea Tuesday in a Miami, Florida courtroom. He will be sentenced in October and prosecutors are seeking a 45-year prison term. Authorities charged him with heading the powerful Norte Valle drug cartel, which rose to become Colombia's most prolific cocaine cartel after the demise of the Medellin and Cali cartels in the mid-1990s.
Federal officials say at the Norte Valle's peak, the cartel supplied 60 percent of all Colombian cocaine transported to the United States. Montoya was arrested in 2007, after an intense manhunt which concluded when he was found hiding in a dry riverbed.
The Norte Valle cartel was a family-run operation. In April, a U.S. District judge sentenced Diego Montoya's younger brother, Eugenio Montoya Sanchez to 30 years in prison on charges including conspiracy to import cocaine and obstruction of justice.
The U.S. government says the cartel used violence and murder to prevent people from passing information to law enforcement officials and to "instill fear."
Some information for this report was provided by AP.