A man who sent tractor-trailers loaded with drugs to San Diego from Mexico was sentenced to 135 months in prison and five years of supervised release Tuesday, the Justice Department said.
Jesus Manuel Salazar-Nunez, 35, pleaded guilty to charges in August to conspiracy to import heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. He is alleged to be a member of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel.
Salazar-Nunez made arrangements for tractor-trailers to travel from Sinaloa, Mexico, to the San Diego suburb of Baja, California, according to court records. The drugs would be hidden in canned food and drinks, frozen shrimp, vegetable boxes and household goods in the trucks. Once they arrived at a Tijuana warehouse, the drugs were unloaded, distributed to couriers and smuggled into San Diego.
Prosecutors said Salazar-Nunez recruited drivers, made arrangements with narcotics customers, deposited proceeds into various Mexican bank accounts and designed items to make it appear as if the tractor-trailer contained legitimate items.
In court Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw said the sentence was severe because of the size and scope of the drug-trafficking business.
“You are not an ordinary defendant … and you need to recognize how wrong it was,” Judge Sabraw said.
Salazar-Nunez was arrested in September 2015 at the Hartsfield-Jackson international airport in Atlanta after a five-year investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of California. In total, 125 people have been charged as a result of the investigation.
“Today marks yet another severe blow to the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel,” stated U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “The Cartel’s drug trafficking empire continues to be diminished and their power eroded with this prosecution. The dedicated efforts of our law enforcement partners in San Diego and Mexico, who greatly assisted with these seizures, shows our continued commitment to dismantle the Sinaloa Cartel.”
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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