Drug kingpin pleads guilty to heroin trafficking

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Federal authorities say a high-ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel has pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking, including in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

Forty-year-old Carlos Ramon Castro-Rocha appeared Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler, where he pleaded guilty to importing and distributing heroin in the United States.

Castro-Rocha faces between 10 years and life in prison, and a $10 million fine when he is sentenced later.

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins says Castro-Rocha was the head of a drug cartel that distributed large quantities of heroin in the U.S. between 2005 and 2008.

Court records shows that during that period, Castro-Rocha's network trafficked up to 10 kilograms of black tar heroin worth $1.2 million in the Charlotte area alone.

Castro-Rocha was initially charged in 2009, but wasn't extradited from Mexico until the end of 2012.