Colombian drug lord pleads guilty, faces life in prison

A Colombian drug lord accused of conspiring to smuggle tons of cocaine into the United States pleaded guilty Friday in Miami federal court.

Diego Perez Henao, 42, acknowledged at his plea hearing that he participated in the production and shipment of more than 81,000 kilos of cocaine from 1994 to 2008, when his primary patron, cartel kingpin Wilber Varela, was killed.

The defendant further admitted that he continued exporting shipments of cocaine into the United States after the death of Varela, the head of the North Valley cartel.

Perez Henao was captured by Venezuelan soldiers in 2012, turned over to Colombian authorities and extradited to Miami last August.

Perez Henao faces up to life in prison at his June sentencing before U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2011, following an investigation by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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