Gulf cartel boss gets 11-plus years for bribery
Gulf cartel boss gets 11-plus years in prison for seeking safe prison release through bribe
A Gulf cartel boss was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison Wednesday for trying to bribe his way to safe release from an earlier sentence for threatening two U.S. agents in Mexico with an assault rifle.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced Juan Carlos De la Cruz Reyna in Brownsville, bringing to end an elaborate case that involved undercover agents in two states, a visit to Atlanta for De la Cruz's parents arranged by investigators and a private flight from Atlanta to Texas for a De la Cruz — who thought his nearly $800,000 in bribes had worked.
De la Cruz was sentenced to 135 months. Five accomplices also were sentenced Wednesday.
De la Cruz's goal was to be released to allies in Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, rather than in a rival's territory or to Mexican authorities.
"I committed this crime so I could save my life," De la Cruz said just before receiving his sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jody Young said those concerns were of De la Cruz's own making as a former plaza boss for the Gulf cartel.
"The life he led is what created that," Young said.
De la Cruz had been scheduled for release from prison in March. He had served his sentence in Atlanta for the 1999 assault on two U.S. agents in Matamoros.
Instead of waiting to see where he was deported after his sentence, De la Cruz began orchestrating his own release, negotiating with who he believed was a corrupt U.S. immigration official.
The government played along, collecting $797,000 from his accomplices between May 2011 and March 2012. But the day before De la Cruz expected to be turned over to his accomplices in Texas, authorities moved in to arrest everyone.
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