BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An alleged high-ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel has pleaded guilty to federal immigration and firearm offenses in Brownsville.
Jose Luis Zuniga Hernandez — known as "El Wicho" — has been identified by federal authorities as supervisor of the Gulf cartel's operations in the border city of Matamoros. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally re-entering the U.S. and being an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm.
Zuniga had already pleaded guilty once, but withdrew his plea in June.
Border Patrol agents arrested him and four others in October 2011 near the Rio Grande. He was carrying $20,000, cocaine and a gold-plated handgun.
Zuniga's lawyer had argued that he was fleeing for his life. Cartel infighting has driven several members into the U.S.
Sentencing is set for Jan. 24.