A Mexican cartel leader received seven consecutive life sentences on June 28 for being responsible for 29 deaths, including a gruesome episode in which he hacked off the limbs of a 6-year-old girl while her parents were forced to watch.
Mariano "Chano" Millan Vasquez, a former assassin, drug trafficker and weapons distributor for Los Zetas, was convicted in a Texas federal court of a number of charges that include killing while committing drug-trafficking crimes; conspiracy to distribute and import marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine; employing minors for drug crimes and and lying to federal agents, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
Vasquez and the cartel also reportedly massacred 300 people in northern Mexico, reports The San Antonio Express-News.
One witness, who was convicted for trafficking marijuana, cried telling the court how Vasquez and others brought a couple and their 6-year-old girl out to a patio that had a fire burning in a barrel, notes My San Antonio.
"Chano began," the witness said. "He got the axe and cut off [the girl's] knee and an arm ... She would cry. She would scream."
After dismembering her, Vasquez then burned her body in front of her parents while laughing, notes the ICE statement.
He explained to the girl's parents why he killed her in such a brutal way.
"'So you'll remember me,'" Vasquez reportedly told the couple before ordering others to kill the mother in a similar way, as the father was forced to watch. Then, they killed the father.
The murder was designed to make the father suffer as much as possible.
The witness said that he was forced to work for the cartel and had lost a load of marijuana, so the gang made him watch while they murdered 18 people -- with Vasquez present for all but one of them -- as a warning that the witness would meet a similar fate if he did not pay the cartel back for the lost money. Most people -- men, women and children -- were similarly hacked to death.
"Without mercy or compunction he brutally murdered anyone and everyone as it suited him and his cartel, at times inflicting the cruelest of pain, forcing relatives to watch their loved ones murdered before he turned his blades on them," U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr. said while announcing the sentence, notes ICE. "Today's sentence marks an end to his reign of terror over the drug plaza in Piedras Negras."
Vasquez was arrested in July 2015 in San Antonio, Texas, and has been in federal custody ever since.
"Marciano Millan Vasquez's sentence to life in federal prison sends a message of our unending resolve to pursue drug traffickers who wreak havoc in our communities," said Joseph M. Arabit, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Houston Field Division.