Ex-Mexican prosecutor sentenced to 20 years in US drug case
NEW YORK (AP) — A former state attorney general from Mexico was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison in a U.S. drug-trafficking case accusing him of using wiretaps and other law enforcement tools to protect the turf of a violent drug cartel.
Edgar Veytia told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that he made a “mistake” by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the cartel while he was chief law enforcement officer in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit.
Veytia, 49, showed no emotion as the judge announced the sentence in the same courthouse where notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sent away to prison for the rest of his life earlier this year.
When Guzman was sentenced, “we warned that there were more days of reckoning to come,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement about Veytia. “The sentence imposed on this corrupt Mexican government official makes this just such a day.”
Veytia - a dual U.S.-Mexico citizen who had lived off and on in San Diego - had pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges he took bribes from a drug organization headed by Juan Francisco Patron Sanchez, a kingpin known as “H2.” In exchange, he helped the organization smuggle massive amounts of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to the U.S. from 2013 until the time of his arrest in 2017, prosecutors said.
In their communications, Veytia and Patron Sanchez used “processing” as code for “committing violent acts against rival drug traffickers detained by corrupt Mexican law enforcement officers controlled by the defendant,” court papers said. After Patron Sanchez killed one of his enemies in 2015, Veytia even assisted in covering up the slaying, the papers said.
Other times, Veytia used wiretaps and conducted raids targeting rival drug gangs, the papers said. He also arranged for the members and associates of the cartel to be sprung from prison, they add.
According to press reports, Veytia survived a 2011 assassination attempt and promoted himself as a law-and-order candidate when he ran for attorney general.
“Nayarit is not fertile ground for lawbreaking,” he once said. “Here, there is no room for organized crime.”