SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A man whose involvement with a Mexican drug cartel led to the abduction and torture of a Texas man held for $2 million ransom has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Jose Luis Rodriguez, 36, had contended his suppliers in the Zetas cartel forced him to lure LeeRoy Euresti to a house in Eagle Pass, along the Rio Grande in Maverick County, where Euresti was tortured and later held hostage in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
"I was around the wrong people," the San Antonio News-Express reported (http://bit.ly/Qsf8Fg ) that he said Friday, apologizing at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. "I never listened to my mom and dad. I always did things my way."
Testimony at Rodriguez's trial in February showed Euresti's brother in 2006 and 2007 was involved in trafficking and the cartel blamed Euresti for the loss of about 250 pounds of cocaine seized in a bust. With the brother in jail, the cartel demanded $2 million from LeeRoy Euresti's family.
LeeRoy Euresti was exchanged after 37 days for his father, plus two cars, to give him time to raise the ransom. Testimony showed Euresti went to the FBI. His father managed to escape after he was held more than a week.
Rodriguez, who had lived in Eagle Pass, was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the U.S. last year.
A South Texas jury convicted him of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of conspiracy to kidnap. Each of the five counts carried a life term.
Evidence during his trial showed Rodriguez and others were involved in distributing more than 3,500 pounds of cocaine from Mexico through Eagle Pass, then 130 miles east to San Antonio, and ultimately to Cleveland; Memphis, Tennessee; Saginaw, Michigan; and New York City.
Rodriguez's lawyer, Scott McCrum, argued for leniency Friday, saying his client was addicted and the kidnapping was out of fear of retaliation.
"They said they were going to kill me, so I did what I did," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he had a brother who is a Border Patrol agent.
"I feel so ashamed of myself for having a brother who works for the federal government and me being here," he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Leachman said a second Zetas operative charged in the case, Raul Parra-Soberanis, is believed to have been killed in Mexico.
Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com