A top co-defendant in the Manuel Noriega case Thursday pleaded guilty to giving drug payoffs directly to the deposed Panamanian leader.

Luis del Cid, a former lieutenant colonel under Noriega, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler, capping almost a year of plea negotiations with the government."Yes I transported the money, but, well, I am repented of having done so," Del Cid told the judge. "What I was doing was following orders of a superior officer."

Del Cid acknowledged making at least three separate cash transactions for Noriega. He admitted to the government's contention that he gave Noriega $100,000 in cash from drug pilot Floyd Carlton Caceres in November 1982.

Del Cid, who faced up to 70 years in prison, could be free under the agreement after serving as little as two years.