EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A Mexican gang leader has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2010 slayings in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, of a U.S. consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another employee.
Prosecutors said Arturo Gallegos Castrellon was sentenced Thursday. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered him to pay over $1.7 million in restitution and forfeiture.
A federal jury found him guilty in February of three counts of murder. He was also convicted on eight other charges, including conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Prosecutors say evidence presented at trial showed he was in charge of a team of assassins with the Barrio Azteca, a gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel, and had ordered the three slayings.
Gallegos Castrellon was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the U.S. on June 28, 2012, to face trial.
A message left with his defense attorney was not immediately returned Thursday.
The murders of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband, Arthur Redfels, and Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another consulate employee, as they left a children's birthday party were a mistake, former gang members testified during the trial. Redfels was driving a white SUV that was very similar to a vehicle that Gallegos Castrellon had marked as a target for his team of assassins because they thought it belonged to rival gang members of the Sinaloa cartel.
The U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement Thursday that Gallegos Castrellon and his team were responsible for more than 800 murders between January and August of 2010 in Ciudad Juarez, that at the time was the hemisphere's most violent city.
Of the 35 defendants charged in the case, 26 have been convicted, one committed suicide in jail and two remain fugitives.