San Diego

Sinaloa Cartel Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 11-Plus Years

The severe sentence was necessary because he helped move hundreds of kilograms of drugs into the U.S., the judge said

A Sinaloa Cartel drug trafficker who pleaded guilty in 2017 for arranging to smuggle narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border was sentenced Friday to more than 11 years in prison and five years probation.

Jesus Manuel Salazar-Nunez managed the shipment of four trailers filled with narcotics to later be smuggled into San Diego, according to court records.

Salazar-Nunez was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison for his role in the notorious international drug trafficking cell responsible for smuggling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw said the severe sentence was necessary because Salazar-Nunez helped move hundreds of kilograms of narcotics into the U.S.

“You are not an ordinary defendant,” Sabraw said. “And you need to recognize how wrong it was.”

The trailers arrived at a warehouse in Tijuana in 2015 where they were unloaded to distributors and then smuggled into San Diego, according to the court records.

“Our communities might not know Mr. Salazar-Nunez by name, but they are very familiar with living in the aftermath of lives destroyed by drug addiction,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.

The trailers — filled with canned foods, drinks, vegetables, and other common goods to hide the narcotics — were found and taken by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement over the course of several months in 2015, according to court records.

This case is part of a larger investigation that has impacted the global operations of the Sinaloa Cartel and has resulted in over 125 charges.

Salazar-Nunez was arrested in September 2015 at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one day after he was charged with a sealed indictment.

Salazar-Nunez, who pleaded guilty in August 2017, was charged with the conspiracy to import methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin into the U.S. As part of his plea, Salazar-Nunez admitted to arranging the movement of the four trailers full of narcotics.

The investigation into the Sinaloa Cartel has given law enforcement an inside look into how some of the largest drug cartels in the world work, authorities said.

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