A young Mexican-American woman branded by the government as the leader of one of Minnesota’s largest meth trafficking cells has pleaded guilty to her role in an extensive conspiracy that included a historic 2016 drug bust in Brooklyn Center.

Macrina Perez, 25, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine on Tuesday to avoid a trial on charges carrying a possible lifetime prison sentence. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ann Montgomery set sentencing for Jan. 9.

Perez’s case has come to shine a light on a resurgence of pure, cheap Mexican-made meth being pumped into Minnesota for both sale here and shipment to neighboring states.

Perez was arrested in April at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. Her purported role atop the drug ring was kept secret until her appearance in a Minneapolis federal courtroom this spring. A federal grand jury had returned a sealed indictment of Perez nearly two years ago that relied on government cooperation from several informants whose identities are still being protected.

Investigators seized more than 140 pounds of meth and $130,000 in cash stored at a Brooklyn Center stash house in 2016, shortly after tracking a local drug dealer to the home. Dolores Ludmilla Castillo and Francisco Silvestre-Martinez — who managed the house — are now serving federal prison sentences after pleading guilty in the case; the dealer, Nicholas Nelson, also pleaded guilty and is in prison.

Court papers have since also revealed that Perez’s name was found on travel documents at the home, and prosecutors said confidential sources identified her as having supplied Castillo with a handgun used to protect the house. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp previously described Perez as “the CEO of this organization” and said she was “as connected to Mexican drug cartels … as anyone I have ever prosecuted.”