Mexico's 'King of Heroin' pleads guilty to conspiracy
VENTURA — The man dubbed Mexico's "King of Heroin," who was pocketing up to $260,000 a week in California drug sales, pleaded guilty in a Ventura County courtroom to conspiring to sell narcotics.
Jose Antonio Medina Arreguin, also known as Don Pepe, faces up to 24 years in prison when he's sentenced April 13, prosecutor David Russell said.
When Arreguin was arrested last year, investigators said the 36-year-old resident of Apatzingan, Michoacan, Mexico, was the leader of an elaborate, multimillion-dollar smuggling operation that once moved an estimated 440 pounds of heroin a month into Oxnard, Downey, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Jose.
The news media in Mexico dubbed him King of Heroin.
Money from the drug sales was illegally transported out of the country and into Mexico on a regular basis, Oxnard police Officer Robert Eckman said in court documents. Arreguin was getting $100,000 to $260,000 a week, Eckman said.
Prosecutors alleged that wiretaps captured phone conversations in which Arreguin discussed drug transactions.
Arreguin was booked into Ventura County jail Oct. 13 after extradition from Mexico more than six months after he was arrested on the California warrant. He pleaded not guilty.
In a Ventura County Star jailhouse interview last year, Arreguin denied he was a drug dealer. He said he was an innocent lemon farmer who sold tortillas and had some cows.
Arreguin told the newspaper he was tortured and threatened into making a false confession by the Mexican Federal Police. Veronica Penunuri, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security, said authorities in her country found no evidence of torture.