Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Alleged Drug Cartel Leader to Enter Plea Today

A man suspected to be one of the U.S. Mexico border region's most notorious drug lords will enter a plea in federal court in San Diego today. Mexico extradited the alleged former leader of the Sinaloa

A man suspected to be one of the U.S. Mexico border region's most notorious drug lords will enter a plea in federal court in San Diego today. Mexico extradited the alleged former leader of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel to the United States last January. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has more.

Court documents say Hector Palma Salazar smuggled more than 50 tons of cocaine into the United States from 1988 to 1995.

Palma Salazar allegedly attempted to sneak tons of cocaine across the border packed inside chili pepper cans. A federal grand jury in San Diego indicted Palma in 1995. Mexican soldiers arrested him in Guadalajara in 2002. Palma maintains he's a rancher, not a drug trafficker.

When Mexican President Felipe Calderon extradited Palma last year it signaled Mexico was serious about cracking down on drugs. The Sinaloa and Arellano Felix cartels are bitter rivals.

Palma faces a minimum 10 years in prison.

Amy Isackson, KPBS News.