ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — A Honduran woman has pleaded guilty in a Virginia court to drug trafficking charges after prosecutors say she masterminded a multinational cocaine-trafficking conspiracy as head of a Honduran cartel.

Erlinda Ramos-Bobadilla, 62, will be sentenced next year and could face up to life in prison for her role in running the Los Montes cartel, which included ordering a hit on a Honduran general and bribing police in Honduras to protect the cartel’s operations.

“The Los Montes cartel, under the leadership of the defendant and her family, trafficked thousands of kilos of illicit drugs and committed heinous acts of violence, including murder, causing a devastating wave of fear and destruction that reverberated from Honduras to the U.S.,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Wanted poster for Juan Carlos Montes-Bobadilla.

Ramos-Bobadilla’s son, Noe, took over as head of the cartel after his father, Erlinda’s husband, died in 2010. The Montes cartel was operated as something of a family business, with Noe and his brothers — Alejandro and Juan Carlos Montes-Bobadilla — all accused in the same conspiracy.

Noe pleaded guilty in 2018, Alejandro has since died and Juan Carlos is still a fugitive with a $5 million reward on his head.

According to a statement of facts agreed to by Ramos-Bobadilla as part of her plea agreement, the Montes cartel played a key role in importing cocaine from South America and working hand in hand with other cartels to move it north to the United States.

One of the cartels they worked with, known as Los Valles, had an operative face charges in Virginia as well.

Ramos-Bobadilla was charged in Virginia because, in 2013, she ordered the murder of Yolanda Canales Ramos. Ramos, a permanent U.S. resident with a family in Virginia, was visiting Honduras when Noe Montes-Bobadilla ordered her murder, believing her to be an informant for the U.S. government.

Erlinda herself intervened when it appeared that the Montes cartel’s hired killers lost track of Ramos, calling in a favor from Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, a member of another cartel who later told U.S. prosecutors that the Honduran government itself stepped in to help his cartel.

Ramos was ultimately killed by the Montes cartel’s assassins in a beauty salon in the city of Tocoa.

Erlinda Ramos Bobadilla now faces a minimum of ten years in prison, and could face up to a life sentence.