DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit federal judge has sentenced a Michigan drug dealer to life in prison for hiring a hit man to kill another man in Colorado to avoid paying a $400,000 cocaine debt.

Judge Paul Borman sentenced 31-year-old Enrique Amaya of Pontiac on Monday for conspiracy to commit murder. A jury found Amaya guilty in June.

Borman also sentenced 30-year-old hit man Franklin Sierra-Rodriguez to 40 years and 33-year-old co-defendant Jesus Medina-Meraz of Sheridan, Colo., to 32 years in prison. They pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the men were involved in the June 1, 2010, death of Joaquin Lucero-Carrillo who was killed when a gunman walked into his Littleton, Colo. apartment complex and opened fire on his doorstep in front of several witnesses. The investigation led detectives in Colorado to metro Detroit, where the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had been investigating Amaya’s drug dealings.

The two law enforcement agencies worked together to identify suspects and piece together evidence that revealed that Amaya and Medina-Meraz had hired Sierra-Rodriguez to murder Lucero-Carrillo in an attempt to erase a $400,000 debt they owed to their cocaine suppliers.

Evidence at trial showed that Amaya received multi-kilogram quantity shipments of cocaine from the Denver area to Pontiac where he would sell the cocaine. When Amaya fell into debt to his suppliers, including the murder victim, he hired Sierra-Rodriguez to murder him, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said.

Amaya, along with several other co-defendants, arranged for the gunman’s transportation and other details involved in the murder-for-hire plot.

Three others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing: Jose Alejandro Villalon-Espinoza, 24, of Pontiac; Rafael Maravillas, 27, of Pontiac; and Franklin Baquedano, 25, of Waterford.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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