SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two men were sentenced Friday to lengthy prison terms for their involvement in a foiled murder-for-hire plot to kill a mother and son nearly three years ago on orders from the Arellano Felix drug cartel.
Jorge Sillas, 30, was sentenced to 21 years and four months behind bars and Victor Gonzalez, 32, was given a 15-year prison term.
Deputy District Attorney Frank Jackson unsuccessfully argued that Gonzalez deserved 17 years behind bars.
"This was a conspiracy to kill two individuals," Jackson said.
Judge Jeffrey Fraser said Gonzalez had no prior record, was remorseful and exhibited behavior in the crime which seemed out of character. The judge, in selecting the lower prison term, said Gonzalez had an "excellent" chance or rehabilitation.
After Fraser wished the defendant good luck, Gonzalez told the judge, "You won't see me again."
Both Gonzalez and Sillas pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and admitted a gang allegation.
A third man, 36-year-old Danny Cepallo, pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder and was sentenced at an earlier hearing to five years in prison.
Prosecutor Mark Amador said the plot to kill the victims was thwarted by law enforcement. The intended victims owed the cartel money from drug sales, according to authorities.
When Sillas and Gonzalez were arrested at a home in Palmdale in Los Angeles County in February 2011, agents seized two AR-15 assault rifles, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and an estimated $20,000 in cash.
The plot to kill the victims was formulated in San Diego County, Amador said. According to court papers, Sillas contacted a confidential informant on Feb. 5, 2011, and ordered him to make the murders happen the next day, killing everyone except a disabled girl.
Between Feb. 6-8, 2011, a confidential informant told Gonzalez that the intended victims had not been seen at home all week. Sillas and the informant later talked about finding the intended victims, and Sillas told Gonzalez he would send someone to find the two, according to the criminal complaint.
Law enforcement officers who broke the case were hailed Friday as "heroes" by the judge.
"They did save two individuals' lives," Fraser said,