Diego León Montoya Sánchez | sentencing

Sentencing

On October 21, 2009, a federal judge in Miami sentenced Montoya to 45 years in prison. Montoya had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and obstruction of justice in August. In court Montoya apologized for his role in the cocaine trade, saying that he had "come to the conclusion that there is nothing I could ever do to repair the great harm I have caused".

It is my sincere hope to be able to bring relief to my family and the families of the victims and bring their nightmare to a conclusion. -- Diego Montoya

Approving the 45-year sentence requested by the prosecution, Judge Cecilia Altonaga said she recognized Montoya's "remorse" and his "new transition" to a life of repentance. She also ordered Montoya to pay $500,000 in restitution to the family of Jhon Jairo Garcia, a long-time associate of Montoya who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Norte del Valle cartel in 2003. The prosecution claimed Montoya had ordered the killing of Garcia after accusing him of becoming an informer for U.S. law enforcement. Mr. Garcia's dismembered body was found in a river near the Colombian city of Cali.

Montoya's lawyer said his client hoped his life story would send a message that drug trafficking destroyed everything in its wake. In court documents, Montoya's defence team traced his progression from a teenager with dreams of becoming a Catholic priest to the man at the helm of a drug-trafficking ring believed to have exported $10 billion worth of cocaine to the U.S. Montoya points to his father's death when he was 14 years old as the catalyst which set him on the wrong path.