News Release
January 16, 2008

DEA in the NEWS: Senior AFO Lieutenant Sentenced to Life in Prison

JAN 16 -- San Diego CA - Karen P. Hewitt, U.S.Attorney for the Southern District of California, announced that Manuel Arturo Villarreal-Heredia, a former senior lieutenant in the narcotics trafficking Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO), was sentenced today in federal court in San Diego by United States District Court Judge Larry A. Burns to serve thirty years in prison and to forfeit $5 million.

As a result of a DEA-led multi-agency investigation, Villarreal-Heredia pled guilty in September 2007 to operating an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and conspiring to invest illicit drug profits. In his guilty plea, Villarreal-Heredia admitted that as one of the senior lieutenants serving under Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix, the former leader of the AFO, they routinely wiretapped rival drug traffickers and Mexican law enforcement officials; impersonated Mexican military and law enforcement officials; trained assassination squads; “taxed” individuals seeking to conduct criminal activities in Tijuana and Mexicali; kidnapped individuals for ransom; imported and distributed ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana; and tortured and killed people. In November 2007, Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix was sentenced to serve life in prison.

DEFENDANT Case Number: 06cr2646-LAB
Manuel Arturo Villarreal-Heredia

Count 1 - Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(c) – Conducting the Affairs of an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activity
Count 2 - Title 18, United States Code, Section 854(a) and 846 – Conspiracy to Invest Illicit Drug Profits
Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1972(a) and 1963 - Criminal Forfeiture

Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement