‘Don Diego’, boss of the Norte del Valle cartel that smuggled some $10 billion worth of cocaine into the U.S., pleaded
guilty Tuesday to drug charges that will send him to prison for at
least 10 years.
Diego ‘Don Diego’ Montoya Sanchez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to
import cocaine, racketeering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The
charges carry a minimum 10 year sentence, but prosecutors will
recommend he spend 45 years in prison.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors consolidated indictments in Miami and Washington, and dropped several charges.
the reputed head of Colombia’s North Valley cocaine cartel, Montoya was
responsible for exporting some 1.2 million pounds of cocaine over the
past decade. At one point he was on the FBI’s most wanted list, and
Colombian authorities blame him for some 1,500 drug-related killings.
48, appeared in court wearing ankle shackles and a prison-issued beige
shirt and brown pants. He listened to Spanish interpretations of the
proceedings on a headset and made a brief statement.
the judge for allowing him to start a “new chapter” in his life,
apologized to his family and other families he had hurt as well as the
governments of the United States and Colombia.
“Thank you and may God accompany my steps, so that I can make amends,” he said.
estimate that at its height the cartel controlled about 60 percent of
Colombia’s cocaine trade. Beginning in the early 1990s the cartel took
over the trade following the demise of the earlier Cali and Medellin
Montoya was captured in Colombia in September 2007 after
an intense manhunt and extradited to the U.S. in December 2008. An
extradition treaty between Columbia and the U.S., however, prohibits
Montoya from being sentenced to life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga scheduled sentencing for Oct. 21.
two brothers have previously pleaded guilty to U.S. drug charges.
Eugenio Montoya, who handled the cartel’s finances and money-laundering
work, is serving 30 years. Juan Carlos Montoya was sentenced to 22