7 Nov 2009

US finds head of major drug cartel guilty

3:50 pm on 7 November 2009

A Guatemalan man said by the United States government to have been one of the world's biggest cocaine dealers has been found guilty of conspiracy to import and sell the narcotic.

Jorge Mario Paredes-Cordova, was found guilty of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine, the US Attorney's office in Manhattan said.

Paredes, said to weigh 150kg and nicknamed "Gordo" (Fat One), was extradited to the United States after his May 2008 capture in Honduras, where he'd been living under an assumed identity.

He faces a sentence of anything between 10 years and life in prison.

The New York court found him guilty on Friday of "conspiring to import tonne-quantities of cocaine into the United States through Central America and Mexico, and to distribute the cocaine in major US cities including New York," the prosecutor's office said.

His network, the Paredes Organisation, moved the drugs by cargo ship from Panama to Mexico and from there to the US through Mexico's ultra-violent drug smuggling groups.

"Today's guilty verdict brings to an end Jorge Mario Paredes-Cordova's nearly decade-long career in drug trafficking that spanned the western hemisphere," US Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Prior to his arrest in 2008 and extradition, Paredes had been on the US Department of Justice's list of the world's most dangerous traffickers.