MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican cartel leader who became one of the most wanted criminals in Mexico due to his gang’s industrial-scale theft of petroleum has been sentenced to 60 years in prison, state prosecutors said on Friday.
Jose Antonio Yepez, a notorious fuel thief blamed for fanning a sharp surge in violence in the central state of Guanajuato, was arrested in 2020 in what was a major coup for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Known as “El Marro” (The Mallet), Yepez was the boss of the Guanajuato-based Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel that waged a bloody turf war in the state with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of Mexico’s most powerful and violent gangs.
The attorney general’s office of Guanajuato said in a Twitter post that a regional court “found him and his co-authors guilty of the crime of kidnapping.”
Yepez was the highest profile narco arrested so far under Lopez Obrador, who had vowed to bring down record levels of violence and also reduce rampant theft of petroleum from pipelines of the state-owned oil giant Pemex.
The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel engaged in an array of criminal activities in Guanajuato, from drug smuggling to kidnapping. Fuel theft was often an easy source of money in a state crisscrossed by pipelines and home to a major refinery.