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Sinaloa cartel's top enforcer 'Chino Antrax' comes clean: Kingpin who bragged of his bling lifestyle on Instagram pleads guilty to major US drug smuggling racket
A lethal enforcer for Mexico's Sinaloa cartel pleaded guilty Wednesday to drug charges in a wide investigation of the group in the United States.
Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, known as 'Chino Antrax,' acknowledged that he helped bring tons of cocaine and marijuana to the country from Mexico and ordered and participated in violence against cartel rivals.
He said in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he was a high-ranking member 'responsible for a number of aspects of the cartel's operations.'
Arechiga Gamboa, 34, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on October 16 for conspiracy to import a controlled substance.
The defendant appeared in court under tight security 10 months after his extradition from the Netherlands.
He was arrested in December 2013 at Amsterdam's airport after a flight from Mexico City, less than two months before the cartel's top leader, Joaquin 'Chapo' Guzman, was captured in Mexico.
'Chino Antrax is one of the highest-ranking Sinaloa cartel kingpins ever prosecuted in the United States,' said Laura Duffy, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.
'While we know that the world's most powerful drug syndicate continues to operate, we also know that it is under intense pressure after a succession of high-impact, high-profile arrests and indictments of the organization's highest-ranking players,' she said.
He has agreed to forfeit $1 million and prosecutors are not recommending that he face any additional fines, according to court documents.
According to local media, he is one of the two leaders of a group of hit men who call themselves the 'Anthrax,' like the deadly disease.
The group is blamed for a series of murders, including the killings of three men who were hung off a bridge in 2011, that were seen as revenge after one of their leaders was murdered.
The Anthrax also helped the Sinaloa organization as it engaged in a bloody war with the Beltran Leyva cartel, when the latter decided to splinter in 2008.
Several folk songs, known as narcocorridos, mention 'El Chino Antrax' as an elegant and fit man with a taste for sports cars, yachts and Champagne.
Arechiga-Gamboa used social media to post images of himself, with his face blurred out, with beautiful women, gold-plated firearms, Italian sports cars and other luxuries in locations all over the world.
In one Instagram photo, he sneaked into a television interview and stood behind Paris Hilton.
Following his arrest, it was widely speculated that the vanity images Arechiga-Gamboa posted online helped agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency track him down.
Arechiga Gamboa was arrested in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that began in 2011 by targeting a small drug-dealing ring in the San Diego suburbs of Chula Vista and National City and reached top leaders through the use of more than 200 wiretaps.
Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada, who is at-large, and three of his four sons are among dozens charged in the investigation.
Serafin Zambada pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges last year after his arrest at a Nogales, Arizona, border crossing.
Arechiga Gamboa's attorney, Frank Ragen, didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.
[Source: Daily Mail, London, 21May15]
Human Rights in Mexico
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