DOJ: Mexican cartel leader pleads guilty to distributing tons of narcotics in US

DOJ: Mexican cartel leader pleads guilty to distributing tons of narcotics in US
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A Mexican cartel leader pleaded guilty Wednesday to his role in distributing several tons of narcotics in the U.S.

Dámaso López-Serrano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances for the purpose of unlawful importation after he surrendered to U.S. authorities last summer.

López-Serrano, 29, is the highest-ranking Mexican cartel leader to self-surrender in the U.S., The Justice Department (DOJ) said in a news release.

López-Serrano distributed "literally tons" of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin across the U.S.-Mexico border, the department said.

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A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July.

López-Serrano is a leader in the Sinaloa Cartel, which was the subject of a broader investigation that began in 2011.

The investigation began in southern California. It eventually spread into a multinational, multistate probe that ended in several arrests and the seizures of 1,397 kilograms of methamphetamine, 2,214 kilograms of cocaine, 17.2 tons of marijuana, 95.84 kilograms of heroin and nearly $30,000 in drug money, according to the DOJ.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE has repeatedly pledged to crack down on illegal drugs flowing into the U.S. from Mexico.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLaura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' Merkley leads Dem lawmakers to border amid migrant policy outcry DHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies MORE last week announced the DOJ would be rolling back Obama-era rules that allowed legalized marijuana to thrive in certain states. The decision was largely panned, including by several Republican lawmakers who said that individual states should be able to determine their own laws on the drug.