Criminal JusticeFederalImmigration & BorderFederal Judge in Brownsville Sentences Gulf Cartel’s Former Leader to Life Imprisonment

Jorge Costilla-Sanchez was first arrested in 2012 by Mexican officials at the request of the U.S. government.
September 16, 2022
A federal judge in Brownsville sentenced a former leader of the Cartel del Gulfo, or Gulf Cartel, to life imprisonment and ordered him to pay $5 million, the estimated proceeds from his illegal activities.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a news release on Thursday that federal Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. imposed the sentence on 51-year-old Jorge Costilla-Sanchez after the convict pleaded guilty on September 26, 2017. He was convicted on charges of trafficking cocaine and marijuana into the U.S.

“The court commented that during the 10 years Costilla-Sanchez was the head of the [Gulf Cartel], he lead a violent criminal organization, using guns and intimidation to maintain control of their illegal drug trafficking enterprise and resorting to violence and killing to maintain power,” the DOJ stated in its news release.

“This was a long, but very important case to the district and especially our partners in Brownsville,” U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery said. “The life sentence speaks for itself. Justice has now been served.”

At one time, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the conviction of Costilla-Sanchez, who was arrested in 2012 and 2015 by Mexican authorities.

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Costilla-Sanchez, a Mexican citizen, became the Gulf Cartel’s leader after the arrest of his predecessor, Osiel Cardenes-Guillen. The DOJ indicated that Costilla-Sanchez was the cartel’s boss until 2012.

Prior to becoming the Gulf Cartel’s leader, Costilla-Sanchez was a police officer in Matamoros, a city in the Mexican State of Tamalipus.

The DOJ indicated he also pleaded guilty to threatening two agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1999 during a drug trafficking investigation.

Costilla-Sanchez, Cardenes-Guillen, and other cartel members were accused of accosting the agents with AK-47 machine guns in Mexico, according to the DOS.

Various federal agencies participated in the investigation leading to Costilla-Sanchez’s capture, including the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."