A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the life prison sentence for a Kansas City, Kan., drug dealer with direct links to a powerful Mexican drug cartel.
In 2016, a U.S. District Court judge in Kansas City, Kan., sentenced Juan Manuel Lopez-Garcia to life in prison after Lopez-Garcia was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine and possession of firearms while being in the United States illegally.
The judge who sentenced him said at the time that Lopez-Garcia was the leader of “a huge drug trafficking organization.”
The judge went on to say that the group introduced “substantial amounts of methamphetamine . . . into the lives of undoubtedly thousands of people who are suffering and who will continue to suffer because of the product sold by this defendant and those that worked for him.”
Lopez-Garcia, now 28, had direct access to drugs in Mexico, where his brother was described as a high-ranking leader of the Sinaloa cartel, according to previous court testimony and documents.
When he was arrested in 2014, authorities recovered three assault-style rifles, a shotgun and ammunition.
The sentencing judge also took into account reported threats toward witnesses in the case before trial.
In his appeal, Lopez-Garcia argued that the judge erred in enhancing his sentence because evidence about the alleged threats was hearsay.
He also argued that a life sentence in a drug case for someone with no prior criminal record was unreasonable and that two co-defendants were sentenced to 30 years in prison.
But in its ruling Tuesday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all of Lopen-Garcia’s claims.