A member of a violent international drug cartel was sentenced Monday in New Hampshire to 17 years in prison.
Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, a member of “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel based in Mexico, was sentenced in federal court in Concord for his role in trying to expand the organization’s cocaine empire into the United States, Boston.com reported, adding that Valenzuela promised to deliver 2,200 pounds of cocaine plus methamphetamine and heroin.
“This case illustrates that drug cartels based in foreign countries will go anywhere to distribute their deadly products,” Acting United States Attorney Donald Feith said in a statement quoted by Boston.com. “Mr. Celaya Valenzuela served as a representative of one of the world’s wealthiest and deadliest drug organizations.”
At trial, secretly recorded video and audio showed Valenzuela meeting with other cartel members and undercover FBI agents to increase the reach of the cartel’s cocaine business into the United States and Europe, the Washington Post added, also stating that one of the recorded meetings took place in April 2011 in New Hampshire.
Also in 2011, three successful test deliveries of fruit assured the defendants that they were not working with law enforcement, and the dry runs then led to a cocaine delivery, Boston.com stated.
Valenzuela was scheduled to be sentenced in May, but his lawyers won a postponement by arguing the U.S. couldn’t prosecute him because he intended to smuggle cocaine to Europe, but U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph Laplante ultimately ruled the U.S. did have jurisdiction, Boston.com reported, and Valenzuela was sentenced for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.