Suspected Colombian drug kingpin nixes plea deal

June 14, 2011 - 10:43 AM

MIAMI (AP) — The suspected leader of a Colombian cocaine cartel had planned to plead guilty to a drug conspiracy charge, but opted at the last minute to go to trial instead because the deal prosecutors offered meant he would likely die in prison.

An exasperated U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz warned Jaime Alberto Marin-Zamora on Tuesday that the latest continuance in his case — his third — would be his last. She set trial for Sept. 26.

Defense lawyer David Fernandez told The Associated Press that prosecutors offered a plea deal that would effectively mean a life sentence, which is the maximum Marin-Zamora faces if convicted of cocaine trafficking conspiracy at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels declined to comment.

The 41-year-old Marin-Zamora was captured at a resort off the Venezuelan coast.