MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A former federal police commander alleged to be a close associate of the late Juarez drug cartel leader has been sentenced to 36 years in prison for aiding and protecting drug traffickers.

Gilberto Fabian Campos Martinez was convicted and sentenced on Wednesday, according to a news release from the federal attorney general's office.

Prosecutors say that while a subcommander in the federal judicial police in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, campos Martinez actively aided the Juarez cartel, allowing cocaine-laden boats from Colombia to pass freely through Mexican's Caribbean waters.

The drugs were then shipped to the north, and ultimately to the United States, a news release from the attorney general said.

For his efforts, Campos Martinez received pay in dollars and cocaine, using the proceeds to buy ranches, houses, cars and jewelry, prosecutors said, adding that federal officials have confiscated the illicitly obtained property.

Campos Martinez is among dozens of people, including government officials and businessmen from Quintana Roo, named February in sealed arrest warrants for their alleged ties to the Juarez Cartel.

Prosecutors say he was a close associate of cartel chief Amado Carrillo Fuentes, known as the ``Lord of the Skies'' because of his use of large aircraft to move drugs. Carrillo Fuentes was considered Mexico's No. 1 drug lord until he died in July 1997 while undergoing plastic surgery.

In addition to aiding and abetting drug trafficking, Campos Martinez faces charges related to organized crime, money laundering and stockpiling arms, federal prosecutors said.