June 29 (UPI) -- A San Antonio federal court sentenced Marciano "Chano" Millan Vasquez, a former regional boss for Mexico's Los Zetas cartel, to seven consecutive life sentences.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez handed down the sentences on Wednesday over Millan Vasquez's direct role in 18 deaths and his involvement in the cartel's drug-trafficking operations from 2009 and 2015, when the Los Zetas are accused of carrying out more than 300 killings in northern Mexico.
U.S. law allowed federal prosecutors to charge Millan Vasquez for killings carried out in Mexico as long as those murders were carried out as part of a drug conspiracy tied to the United States.
One of the witnesses in the trial testified that Millan chopped up a 6-year-old girl with an axe while she was still alive and made her parents and other witnesses watch while tied up, the San Antonio Express-News reported. Millan then ordered the parents to be killed, the witness said during the 2016 trial.
"The level of violence ... is something that is rarely seen in the courtroom and .... rarely seen even in fiction," Assistant U.S. Attorney Russ Leachman told judge Rodriguez.
Los Zetas is a vast criminal enterprise involved in drug, firearms and sex trafficking based in Nuevo Laredo, a town bordering the United States in Tamaulipas. The cartel is a rival of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel.
In February, the government of Mexico's Tamaulipas state said José Luis "Comandante Cano" Lumbreras, a known leader within the Los Zetas cartel, was arrested.