Druglord Convicted

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HOUSTON: Juan Garcia Abrego, once on the FBI's Most Wanted list for smuggling cocaine into the U.S., was convicted Wednesday on 22 counts of drug trafficking and money laundering. Jurors deliberated for 12 hours before finding Garcia Abrego guilty of masterminding the movement of almost 15 tons of cocaine into the United States and laundering $10.5 million. A sentence has not yet been handed down, but he is likely to face life imprisonment. Rumors are still flying about the extent to which Garcia Abrego managed to exploit a corrupt Mexican government to build a $2 billion a year drug business. Despite rumored links between Garcia Abrego and Raul Salinas, brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas, the trial testimony highlighted only corruption among certain low-level police officials. The DEA believes that Garcia Abrego is behind the transformation of Mexico from a smalltime marijuana supplier to a clearinghouse for huge cocaine shipments. But prosecutors referred to Garcia Abrego throughout the trial as "the big cheese," it is unlikely that his internment will do much to diminish the flow of drugs across the border. "Abrego's Gulf Cartel is essentially a family-run operation," says TIME's Laura Lopez. "It is likely that one of his relatives will just step in and keep it going." -->