ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Three men who kidnapped and tortured a man over a drug debt were sentenced Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia, to decades in prison, in a case tied to Mexican drug cartels.
Federal authorities point to the 2008 case as evidence that Atlanta has become a major distribution hub for powerful Mexican drug groups such as the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels.
Victor Abiles Gomez, 20, Omar Mendoza-Villegas, 19, and Gerardo Solorio Reyes, 23, were sentenced to more than 20 years each in the kidnapping and beating of Oscar Reynoso in a suburban Atlanta home, federal authorities said.
Gomez and Mendoza-Villegas were sentenced to 24 years in federal prison; Reyes was sentenced to 26 years.
The three gagged the victim and left him chained to a mattress in an unfinished basement for six days because of a $300,000 drug debt, authorities said.
The three are illegal immigrants from Mexico and had ties to powerful drug cartels there, authorities said.
"This case demonstrates the danger inherent in the illegal business of drug-dealing," said Atlanta U.S. Attorney David Nahmias. "Fortunately, this violent episode did not spill over to innocent members of our community."
In fiscal 2008, authorities confiscated about $70 million in drug-related cash in Atlanta, more than anywhere else in the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration has said.
Atlanta has become a stopping point for truckloads of Mexican cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine, agents say. The drugs are held in stash houses before being distributed on the East Coast.
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