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Leader of Mexican drug gang sentenced to 12 life terms in San Diego for murder

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SAN DIEGO — The convicted leader of a Mexican drug gang that killed and kidnapped people in Southern California has been sentenced to a dozen life sentences without chance of parole.

U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/1vwgjq2) says Jorge Rojas Lopez also got an additional 162 years to life Wednesday in San Diego.

Rojas was convicted of four murders and pleaded guilty to five more.

Authorities say Rojas was the head of Los Palillos — Spanish for "the Toothpicks."

PHOTO: FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2009, file photo, Juan Francisco Estrada-Gonzalez is brought into the courtroom by San Diego Sheriff's deputies during his arraignment hearing on murder charges in San Diego Superior Court in San Diego. Estrada-Gonzalez and 16 other alleged members of a group of Mexican drug traffickers were indicted in the murders of nine people in the San Diego area. Estrada-Gonzalez was sentenced in San Diego County to nine life terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, ending the longest criminal trial in county history, lasting 15 months including jury selection. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 13, 2009, file photo, Juan Francisco Estrada-Gonzalez is brought into the courtroom by San Diego Sheriff's deputies during his arraignment hearing on murder charges in San Diego Superior Court in San Diego. Estrada-Gonzalez and 16 other alleged members of a group of Mexican drug traffickers were indicted in the murders of nine people in the San Diego area. Estrada-Gonzalez was sentenced in San Diego County to nine life terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, ending the longest criminal trial in county history, lasting 15 months including jury selection. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

To keep Rojas from getting the death penalty, the defense argued that many of the people who were killed or held captive for ransom belonged to a Mexican drug cartel.

Rojas was one of 18 people indicted in connection with the gang.

Co-leader Juan Francisco Estrada Gonzalez was sentenced Tuesday to nine life terms.


Information from: U-T San Diego, http://www.utsandiego.com

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