Strike Force Shuts Down Prolific Sinaloa Drug Cartel Mid-Level Distributor
Photo: confiscated gun and ammo
LOS ANGELES – When The Los Angeles Strike Force Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force identified Jesus Raul Salazar-Espinoza (51) a.k.a. “Pedro” as a Sinaloa Drug Cartel mid-level distributor, an extensive 4-year investigation ensued.
Investigators discovered that the prolific Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) coordinator had led the 20-year, fully operational drug-distribution activities in Los Angeles, Mexico, and throughout the United States.
Salazar’s plentiful previous deportations to Mexico resulted in repetitive illegal re-entries to resume drug distribution. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), his criminal enterprise furnished narcotics such as “cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and marijuana to major street gangs such as the Compton-based “Santana Blocc” Crips, the Long Beach-based “Insane Crips,” the Long Beach-based “Rollin’ 20s” Gang, the Mississippi-based Gangster Disciples Gang, and the Mississippi-based Vice Lords Gang and career drug dealers nationwide.”
Narcotics and weapons violations resulted in a federal grand jury indicting Salazar on the following five counts in May 2017:
Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine;
Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin;
Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl;
Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;
Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition
Further investigation revealed Salazar’s routinely-arranged narcotics deliveries and money pick-ups with his Mexico-based Sources of Supply from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.
As a result, the prolific pusher’s drug distribution criminal enterprise was busted wide open. Salazar pleaded guilty on 11/2/18 to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The four-year investigation culminated in a member of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel being sentenced by United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. on 12/6/19. “Pedro” was handed 180 months in federal prison for narcotics and weapons violations.
“The coordination and collaboration between all of our law enforcement partners helped bring to justice a prolific drug cartel member that eroded the safety of our community in Los Angeles,” said Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division William D. Bodner.
The Los Angeles Strike Force investigation was led by the DEA, in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI. Additional investigative agencies included the Manhattan Beach PD; Long Beach PD; Beverly Hills PD; Lorain County Drug Task Force (Ohio); U.S,Postal Inspection Service; U.s.Border Patrol; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S.Marshals Service – L.A. Special Response Team; the California Department of Justice-Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; the California Highway Patrol; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Special Services Unit and the L.A. County Probation Department.
“Mr. Salazar’s 15-year prison sentence is a result of the tireless efforts of law enforcement to bring drug traffickers to justice,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “This case illustrates that drug traffickers will face severe consequences for spreading poison across American communities.”