SAN DIEGO — The last of four brothers accused of creating an infamous Mexican drug cartel was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to helping send hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds from the United States.

Eduardo Arellano Felix, 56, was sentenced under terms spelled out in a plea agreement struck with prosecutors in May. It marks one of the final milestones in an investigation that began two decades ago.

The Tijuana-based Arellano Felix family moved hundreds of tons of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico and Colombia and profited hundreds of millions of dollars, authorities say.

The family slowly lost its grip along California's border with Mexico over the past decade, while the Sinaloa cartel emerged as the most powerful group in the highly coveted corridor for bringing drugs to the United States.

Eduardo Arellano Felix was extradited from Mexico in August 2012 to face charges in San Diego. He was arrested in October 2008 in a shootout with Mexican authorities at his Tijuana home that was witnessed by his 11-year-old daughter.

Benjamin Arellano Felix, described by U.S. and Mexican authorities as the cartel's mastermind, was sentenced to 25 years in U.S. prison last year after being extradited from Mexico, where he was arrested in 2002. Ramon Arellano Felix, the cartel's top enforcer, was killed in a shootout with Mexican authorities in 2002.

Another brother, Francisco Javier, was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison after the U.S. Coast Guard captured him in a fishing boat in international waters off Mexico's Baja California coast.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, who built her career on the Arellano Felix investigation, said the three living brothers terrorized the border for decades, ordering assassinations and corrupting countless public officials.

They are "now confined to maximum-security prison cells for a very long time," Duffy said. "I urge others who aspire to take their place to take note."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Jack Riley, Vince Balbo

    In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago, points out local Mexican drug cartel problem areas on a map in the new interagency Strike Force office in Chicago. Looking on is DEA agent Vince Balbo. The ruthless syndicates have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Joaquin ``El Chapo'' Guzman

    FILE - This Feb. 14, 2013 file photo, shows a poster displayed at a Chicago Crime Commission news conference in Chicago, where Joaquin ``El Chapo'' Guzman, a drug kingpin in Mexico, was named as Chicago's Public Enemy No. 1, It is first time since prohibition, when the label was created for Al Capone, that anyone else has been named Public Enemy No. 1. Ruthless drug cartels have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Jose Gonzales-Zavala

    This photo dated in 2007 from federal court documents provided by attorneys for Jose Gonzales-Zavala shows Gonzales-Zavala with two of his children allegedly taken in Mexico. Prosecutors say Gonzales-Zavala was a member of the La Familia cartel, based in southwestern Mexico, and dispatched to the Chicago area to oversee one of the cartel's lucrative trafficking cells. His defense team entered the photograph into evidence during the sentence stage of his case in arguing for leniency. In 2011, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a federal judge in Chicago. (AP Photo/Attorneys for Jose Gonzales-Zavala)

  • Art Bilek, Jack Riley, Peter Bensinger

    In this Feb. 14, 2013 photo, Art Bilek, executive vice president of the Chicago Crime Commission, left, announces that Joaquin ``El Chapo'' Guzman, a drug kingpin in Mexico, has been named Chicago's Public Enemy No. 1, during a news conference in Chicago. Looking on is Jack Riley, right, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago and Peter Bensinger, former Administrator of the United States DEA. Ruthless drug cartels have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Socorro Hernandez-Rodriguez

    This 2009 photo provided by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department in Lawrenceville, Ga., shows reputed cartel operative Socorro Hernandez-Rodriguez after his arrest in a suburb of Atlanta. Hernandez-Rodriguez was later convicted of sweeping drug trafficking charges. Prosecutors said he was a high-ranking figure in the La Familia cartel, sent to the U.S. to run a drug cell. His defense lawyers denied he was a major figure in the cartel. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2009 file photo, weapons and drugs seized in special joint operation conducted with the Drug Enforecement Administration against the La Familia drug cartel based out of Michoacan, Mexico and operating in San Bernardino and surrounding counties, are on display at a news conference at sheriff's headquarters in San Bernardino, Calif. Drug cartels have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2010 file photo, bales of marijuana are wheeled out at a news conference in Jonesboro, Ga. Forty-five people were arrested 45 people along with cash, guns and more than two tons of drugs as part of an investigation by federal and local law enforcement into the Atlanta-area U.S. distribution hub of Mexico's La Familia drug cartel. Drug cartels have long been the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, but in the past, their operatives rarely ventured beyond the border. A wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Spink) MARIETTA DAILY OUT; GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT; LOCAL TV OUT; WXIA-TV OUT; WGCL-TV OUT