SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former lieutenant for a Mexican drug cartel was sentenced Friday to more than 11 years in prison for his role in a criminal smuggling organization responsible for shipping heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into San Diego.
Jesus Manuel Salazar-Nunez of Culiacan, Mexico, pleaded guilty Aug. 14, the day he was scheduled for trial in the case, to conspiracy to import illegal narcotics into the United States.
While handing down the 135-month custody term to the 35-year-old defendant, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw noted that Salazar-Nunez used his education and professional achievements as a college-educated businessman to help move hundreds of kilograms of drugs month after month across the U.S.- Mexico line.
"You are not an ordinary defendant ... and you need to recognize how wrong (your conduct) was," Sabraw told Salazar-Nunez.
Through his plea agreement, Salazar-Nunez admitted to making arrangements for four tractor-trailer shipments of narcotics. All the big rigs were seized in Mexico in the spring and summer of 2015, court documents state.
That same year, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents intercepted the communications of Salazar-Nunez and other high-level cartel members making arrangements for cargo trucks to travel from Sinaloa, Mexico, to Baja California, carrying drugs hidden among canned food and drinks, frozen shrimp and vegetable boxes, and other household goods, according to prosecutors.
Once the vehicles arrived at a Tijuana warehouse, the narcotics were unloaded, distributed to couriers and smuggled into San Diego.
Salazar-Nunez allegedly recruited drivers, made arrangements with narcotics customers to use their transportation services, deposited narcotics proceeds into various Mexican bank accounts and designed items to make it appear that the tractor-trailer loads contained legitimate items.
Agents arrested Salazar-Nunez in September 2015, when he flew into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from Guadalajara, Mexico.
"Today marks yet another severe blow to the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel," San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. "The cartel's drug-trafficking empire continues to be diminished and their power eroded with this prosecution."
Sprouts Farmers Market will hold a National Hiring Day Tuesday, July 24 at its more than 300 U.S. stores.
West Nile virus made its first appearance of the summer in San Diego County this week when a batch of mosquitoes trapped in Santee tested positive for the viral infection.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office is asking for the public’s help to identify a woman, possibly in her late teens, killed by a hit-and-run driver as she walked along state Route 94 earlier this month.
Major traffic is expected to start Wednesday evening as Comic-Con kicks off with preview night in Downtown San Diego. MTS officials are encouraging attendees to use public transportation and got into the SDCC spirit with an homage to the "Stranger Things."
A person was struck and killed Wednesday by an SUV on Interstate 805 in the Lincoln Park area, necessitating the closure of multiple freeway lanes during the morning commute.
A 28-year-old man died Wednesday after he was found shot in a car in San Diego's University Heights neighborhood, police said.
Calling all aspiring entomologists! You're invited to San Diego Botanic Garden’s Insect Festival this weekend!
Comic-Con International, again expected to draw a wide array of fans of the popular arts, will conduct its annual preview night at the San Diego Convention Center Wednesday night.
A 25-year-old man suffered a fractured femur today when he was shot in the right leg by a man in San Diego's Chollas View neighborhood, police said.