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The US keeps giving plea deals to Mexican drug lords
Posted on February 4, 2013 by Miguel Angel Vega
The United States continues to do great business with drug traffickers: now it was the turn of the Sinaloan, Ovidio Limón Sánchez, who paid $2.6 million for a reduced sentence.
On April 13, 2009, the United States Department of Justice published a list with the eleven men most wanted by the DEA, which then had Arturo Beltrán Leyva, Joaquín el Chapo Guzmán and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes topping the list. In fourth place, however, appeared the name of an unknown: Ovidio Limón Sánchez, whom the DEA, the FBI and the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) identified as "people of El Chapo", but more curious was that Limón Sánchez is more wanted than Ismael "Mayo" Zambada, Ignacio Nacho Coronel and Juan José Esparragoza, "El Azul", who does not even appear on the list.
Such was the importance of Ovidio, who along with Víctor Emilio Cázarez, Tony Tormenta, El Coss or even El Lazca, not even the brothers Miguel Ángel and Alejandro Treviño Morales, who also made up the list, were as relevant to the DEA as Ovidio.
The hunt then began and two and a half years later the Mexican army arrested him in a residential area of Culiacán, to be immediately locked up in a prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco.
It didn't take a year for the Mexican Government to approve the extradition, since Ovidio was the "fourth most wanted man by the DEA, and he posed a strong threat to the United States".
But it is precisely on U.S. soil where the case came to a head, now that days after his extradition, Ovidio Limón Sánchez appeared before a federal court in Los Angeles, and at the suggestion of his lawyer, pleaded guilty. Given this, the judge, Andrew J. Guilford determined to punish him with a sentence of 120 months in prison, while counting the time during which he was held in Mexico.
What was then a secret is that before being sentenced, Ovidio agreed to give $600,000 in cash to the United States, in addition to properties valued at more than two million dollars; It was the price of a lenient sentence, considering the magnitude of his "dangerousness".
And what other agreements did Ovidio's defense make with the U.S. judicial system to achieve a sentence this light? That is a mystery.
After a stealthy and quick trial, the name of Ovidio Limón Sánchez appeared in the lists of the Department of prisons of United States (BOP), where it is explained that he is being held at a medium security prison in Phoenix, Arizona, and that he will be free on June 5, 2021.
Federal judge Andrew J. Guilford, who after being informed that the defendant gave up $600,000 in cash, in addition to a mansion in Los Angeles, decided to sentence to an with an "exemplary punishment" of 120 months in prison, in addition to counting his incarceration in Mexico.
The Federal Court of United States from the Central District of California, located at the corner of Spring and Temple, in downtown Los Angeles, was not so kind as to overlook an additional fee for $100 that Ovidio was ordered to pay immediately, "given the gravity of their crimes".
So the United States ended up cutting a deal, once again, with another "powerful" drug trafficker, as at one time they did Benjamín Arellano Félix, who payed $ 100 million, or Héctor "el Güero" Palma, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who had $ 50 million seized, or Javier Torres Félix JT, whose cases were closed, and according to the BOP he will be free in the next few years.
The American pantomime
A list of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world, published by the DEA in 2009, with names, nicknames, age, height and weight, was to a spectacular document. There appeared the names Arturo Beltrán Leyva, Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán, Ovidio Limon Sánchez, Emilio Cázarez Salazar, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, among others, followed by the legend Wanted, and then the DEA seal.
Out of all of them, only Ovidio is held by the Government of the United States, while the rest, either remain fugitives, or they have been killed.
The record 8:09-CR-00201-AG, confirms that, indeed, an agreement was made between Ovidio and the U.S. Government, and clarifies that in addition to the properties and the payment of $600,000 to be paid "before flush out the sentence".
A DEA agent, questioned about the judgments of United States, acknowledged that they were "soft", but said that they could not do anything.
"We only do our work, the punishment that a judge determines there is no longer competition from us," said the agent, who requested their identity was not revealed.
Agreements under the water
When Ovidio Limón learned that he could be sentenced to spend the rest of his days in prison, according to the criminal Federal Code of United States, and that they could also seize $ 4 million from him, he hired a law firm led by Frank Ragen, and he made a quick negotiation.
Ovidio, originally from Mocorito, Sinaloa, had his defense attorneys meet immediately with U.S. prosecutors Jennifer Water and André Birotte, and they agreed that he would plead guilty in exchange for a "just" sentence.
Agreements were, precisely, that Ovidio gave them $600,000 in cash, in addition to a property located at 7007 of Gage Avenue, in Los Angeles, and to eventually testify against drug traffickers when they are presented in court; all this in exchange for the minimum penalty of 10 years in prison. According to federal law, they would in addition, count the time during which he was held in Mexico, a period of little more than one year.
Ovidio heard the offer and immediately accepted it. When it was filed with judge Guilford, without hesitating for a second, he pleaded guilty.
The agreement was made, and was only a matter ' acting it ', as established it the judicial bureaucracy in this country.
The charges which Ovidio was sentenced were distribution and possession of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, the record even explains how several police departments in Southern California, including Los Angeles (LAPD) and Los Angeles of Anaheim (APD) executed searches at his various homes, finding on at least two occasions, several kilos of cocaine ready for distribution.
Therefore, if Ovidio was just a Distributor, it is strange that the DEA has placed it as a large operator of Joaquin Guzman Loera and well as El Lazca.
The truth is that, while it is said that Ovidio was one of the most attached to the Chapo Guzmán men, record do not mention the name of Joaquín Guzmán at all, although, yes it is supposed that he was a buyer of hundreds of kilos of cocaine in Southern California, and acquired them them from a Mexican, although they are not specific about who .
The mystery of why the DEA ranked it as the fourth drug trafficker most powerful and dangerous in the world, while the DOJ puts it as a simple distributor will continue like that: a mystery.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF AN AGREEMENT
2006-A federal court of the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, presents a court order to search properties of Ovid Limón Sánchez, whom the DEA identified as a supplier of cocaine in the region.
2007 The same Court of the Department of Justice of United States, in Los Angeles, issued charges against Limon Sanchez, so it is required by Justice.
2009. The DEA, the FBI, the ICE and ATF Limón Sánchez as the fourth most important drug trafficker in the world identify and catalog it as a threat to the United States.
2011. On 9 November, the Mexican army with intelligence from U.S. agencies, located and arrested Ovidio in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Two days later Ovidio was held in the prison's maximum-security Puente Grande, Jalisco.
2012. On 8 may, and even when Ovidio Limón was imprisoned, the Department of the Treasury of United States issued a bulletin prohibiting their fellow citizens to perform any type of transaction with Ovidio, for his links with organized crime.
2012 September 20, Ovidio Limón Sánchez, is extradited to the United States.
2012 December 3 of that same year, Ovidio is sentenced to 120 months in prison.
2012 December 5, Ovidio Limón Sánchez is transferred to the criminal medium security Safford FCI, in Phoenix, Arizona, where he will spend the remainder of his sentence. His release date is scheduled for June 5 in the 2021.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
@Kid. Money talks.
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.
I don't know. If he really does testify when they catch his associates, he's a snitch. This isn't the same as tipping off the DEA about loads being moved by rivals. This is violating a blood oath.
However, the idea that the US Attorney will reduce a sentence from 50 years to 10 years for $600,000 in cash and a house is somewhat comforting.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
Yeah, he sold his soul to the feds, but a lot do, those mandatory minimums are designed for that, that's how they broke the back of the Mafia in the 80's. I was following a case of someone I was familiar with when I was younger, and he had a 40+ count indictment, including conspiracy to distribute over a 1,000 pounds, and he was the undisputed leader of the group, made millions...pled out to 8 years, seeing how he wasn't in any way eligible for the safety valve, and he forfeited 575,000 in cash and assets, he definitely cooperate, or debriefed, whatever.
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