Jose Antonio Acosts Hernandez, 34, pleaded guilty to racketeering, drug conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, money laundering and other crimes during a hearing Thursday in federal court in El Paso, Texas, the El Paso Times reported. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone spent half an hour just reading the list of charges.
U.S. investigators say Acosta Hernandez, a former police officer and a boss for the Juarez Cartel in Juarez and Chihuahua City, was responsible for about 1,500 killings. The victims that attracted the most attention in the United States were those of Lesley Enriquez Redelfs, a consular employee, her husband Arthur, an El Paso County sheriff's detention officer, and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, husband of a consular employee, who were gunned down as they left a children's party in 2010.
Cardone imposed three consecutive life terms, seven concurrent terms and an additional 20 years.
"This is one of the most heinous and violent and callous crimes I have ever seen," she said. "I think it's a real tragedy all that has happened. This court believes in many ways that life is not enough for all the lives you have taken."
Acosta Hernandez told the judge he had nothing to say before sentencing. When she asked him specifically about the consulate killings, he denied knowing about them until much later, saying they were carried out by a group that acted independently.
Many of Acosta Hernandez's alleged confederates were indicted with him and are either in custody or being sought by U.S. and Mexican authorities.