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Judge Sentences Eldest Arellano to Six Years, With Parole Potential

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Aired 4/19/09

The eldest brother in the notorious Arellano Felix family that runs Tijuana's Arellano Felix Drug Cartel was sentenced in federal court in San Diego Monday. Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix could be eligible for parole in four months. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has the story.

Mexico extradited Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix to the United States last year after he served time for gun charges in Mexico.

It was the first time Mexico sent a major drug lord north for trial.

Arellano Felix faced charges in San Diego for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and selling about a half a pound to an undercover agent in 1980.

Back then, Arellano Felix skipped his court date and fled back to Mexico.

This time, he pleaded guilty. He told the court he's remorseful after, quote, being deprived of liberty for 14 years in Mexico.

The judge sentenced Arellano Felix to six years. However, with credit for time served, he could be paroled in four months and deported to Mexico.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy says the big question mark is what effect he'll have on the cartel when he returns.

His attorney says the Arellano Felix brothers cut ties with Francisco Rafael when he was arrested 14 years ago.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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