Alleged Teen Assassin's Mom Pleads Guilty

Her estranged son is accused of killing for a Mexican drug cartel

By Michael Gehlken
|  Thursday, Jan 20, 2011  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Teen Says He Was Hitman for Cartel

Greg High

The sketch of Yolanda Jimenez Lugo was drawn Jan. 20, 2010. in a San Diego federal court where Lugo pleaded guilty to being in the United States illegally.

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The mother of a San Diego-born teenager accused of killing for a Mexican drug cartel pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal court to the charge of being in the United States illegally.

Yolanda Jimenez Lugo, 43, originally filed a not guilty plea last week. She’s expected to be deported to Mexico following a prison term that will be determined at an April 24 sentencing.

Lugo’s 14-year-old son, known as “El Ponchis,” was arrested Dec. 3 at an airport south of Mexico City. He admitted to participating in four executions for the Cartel of the South Pacific and said he was drugged and told the drug cartel would kill him if he refused to participate.

El Ponchis is being tried in Mexico for the alleged beheadings and faces a three-year prison maximum under state juvenile law.

Jimenez separated from her son — one of six children now living in Mexico — in 1996 due to her drug issues and they have not kept in contact, Jimenez’s lawyer Jack Boltax said.

She was convicted of an aggravated felony on Aug. 2, 1997, and was deported the next month.

Jimenez has two daughters from her present relationship with husband Gabrielle Aguirre Manuel, 46. Both parents were detained Dec. 6 at the family’s apartment in Logan Heights and are being held for the same charges.

Along with the undetermined sentencing, Judge Ruben Brooks ruled Thursday that Jimenez must pay a maximum $250,000 fine, $100 mandatory special assessment and spend no more than three years under supervised release.

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