Cartel leader heads to prison for over $2M Drug Seizures

Cartel leader heads to prison for over $2M drug seizures

A leader within Cartel De Jalisco Nueva Generacion has been ordered to federal prison for his role in an elaborate conspiracy of possession with intent to distribute meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Juan Manuel Salazar Alvarez, 29, Michoacan, Mexico, pleaded guilty Nov. 5, 2020.

Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana sentenced Alvarez to 282 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a $2.7 million.

The investigation began in June 2017, when authorities identified Alvarez as a leader within Cartel De Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Alvarez directed the cartel’s large-scale operations functioning in Tamaulipas, Mexico. It comprised of couriers, stash house operators and transportation coordinators, all responsible for smuggling multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics concealed in fire extinguishers, wooden blocks, car batteries and hydraulic jacks.

The drugs were often illegally imported into Laredo and stashed in storage units or tractor trailers to then be distributed into Houston, Dallas, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.

During the course of the investigation, authorities linked 16 separate drug seizures to Alvarez. The drugs were concealed in similar manner. The seizures spanned from July 18, 2017, through Sept. 10, 2019.

The wholesale value of the drugs seized is estimated to be $2.7 million.

Alvarez’s co-conspirators included truck drivers, stash house operators and transporters who were implicated in the seizure of wooden/steel blocks, hydraulic jacks, batteries or fire extinguishers which contained bundles of an assortment of drugs in multiple kilograms.

Alvarez is the last defendant among 11 who have been previously sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy. Roberto Ivan Rodriguez Ramirez, 27, and Manuel Enrique Ayala Rodriguez, 45, both of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, were each sentenced to 192 months, while Giovani Mendez Hornelas, a non-U.S. citizen residing in Angier, North Carolina, received 108 months.

Daniel Morales Hinojosa, 52, Santos Salazar, 35, Victor Hinojosa, 36, Omar Hiracheta-Cruz, 38, and Armando Animas Hernandez, 33, all from Michoacan and or Nuevo Leon, Mexico, were sentenced earlier in the year. Daniel Hinojosa and Salazar were each ordered to serve 262-month-terms of imprisonment, while Victor Hinojosa, Hiracheta-Cruz and Hernandez received 210, 192 and 120 months, respectively. All are also expected to face removal proceedings.

Alvarez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Gelo Podre (Rotten Ice) with the assistance of Laredo Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Border Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety and Williamson County Sheriff’s Office coordinated through Special Operations Division Operation Python.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.