SAN DIEGO -- Three members of a Mexican drug cartel were sentenced Wednesday to federal prison for a conspiracy to kidnap rival drug dealers in San Diego and take them to Mexico.

The three suspected that the San Diego dealers were stealing their methamphetamine. They planned to take their targets to Mexico, where they would torture them until they paid for their freedom, according to court documents.

In a recording by U.S. law enforcement, one of the cartel members was heard saying that one of the San Diego targets could be turned into "pozole" -- a term for a "soup" made by dissolving a body in acid.

Carlos Alberto Andrade De La Cruz, 36, of Tijuana, was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison. Luis Miguel Salas Rodriguez, 26, of San Diego, and Antonio Zermeno-Garcia, 30, of San Diego, were each sentenced to seven years and eight months.

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes said the three men were "cold-blooded" and fully capable of killing. 

They were arrested in March 2012 when Andrade De La Cruz, the leader of the conspiracy, crossed into the U.S. and met the other two men near the house of an intended victim, prosecutors said.

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tony.perry@latimes.com