Cartel member faces 15 more years for bribery

April 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM

HOUSTON, April 24 (UPI) -- After serving prison time, a Gulf Cartel henchman faces 15 more years for trying to bribe his way out of being deported to Mexico, U.S. officials say.

Juan Carlos De La Cruz Rey, 37, was convicted for his role in a 1999 attack on two Drug Enforcement Administration agents. He served just under five years in prison, two of which were served in Mexico while he was awaiting extradition to Houston.

De La Cruz pleaded guilty Monday to bribery, in an attempt to ensure safe passage into Mexico after his deportation.

The purported deal was U.S. officials would hand De La Cruz over to members of his cartel, rather than to the authorities. The Houston Chronicle reported a Homeland Security investigator posed as a corrupt U.S. official and accepted $797,000 in bribes from De La Cruz and three other associates, who also pleaded guilty. De La Cruz reportedly feared his rivals in Mexico would kill him shortly after his arrival.

"I am happy it was a safe ending," said Jody Young, federal prosecutor. "It is important for us in law enforcement to investigate those who are willing to bribe as well as those willing to take bribes."

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