Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Mexican Nationals Sentenced to Life for Narcotics Smuggling

Two Mexican men involved in separate narcotics smuggling conspiracies were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, December 5, 2012, in North Carolina. Both investigations involved U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to filed documents and court proceedings, Alejandro Salinas Garcia, 31, led a conspiracy that lasted from 2002 to 2009, and involved the importation of more than 600 kilograms of cocaine, in excess of one kilogram of crack cocaine, approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana, primarily from Mexico through the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Court filings indicate that Garcia was the leader of the conspiracy and the local source of supply for the drug trafficking organization.

Court records show that, among other things, Garcia used his co-defendants to distribute the narcotics and to enforce and collect debts from customers.

The investigation of Garcia's trafficking organization was conducted by HSI, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI), the North Carolina Alcohol Enforcement Agency, the Hickory Police Department, the Catawba County Sheriff's Office, the Newton Police Department, the Iredell County Sheriff's Office and the Davie County Sheriff's Office.

Garcia was sentenced to life in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Voorhees following his prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

Cesar Sierro-Pineda, 34, of Mexico, was also sentenced to life in prison by Judge Voorhees for his role in a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. According to filed court documents and court proceedings, Sierro-Pineda, aka "El Chocado," was a distributor for the Mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana. From November 2010 through February 2011, Sierro-Pineda imported into the United States from Mexico near-pure crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice. The defendant also cooked the methamphetamine in an informal superlab in his home in Duluth, Ga., court records show. A superlab is a laboratory capable of producing 10 or more pounds of methamphetamine in a single production cycle.

Court filings indicate that on Nov. 8, 2010, Sierro-Pineda attempted to import approximately 6.5 kilograms of ice into the United States using a courier. U.S. authorities seized the methamphetamine at the International Port of Entry in Laredo, Texas. Sierro-Pineda continued selling methamphetamine to customers in other states, including North Carolina, court records show.

On Feb. 25, 2011, law enforcement raided Sierro-Pineda's superlab in Duluth, seizing five gallons of liquid methamphetamine in the process of being converted to crystal methamphetamine. That volume of liquid methamphetamine could be converted into 20 pounds of methamphetamine. During the investigation, law enforcement also seized more than two additional pounds of methamphetamine and 20 firearms.

The investigation was conducted by HSI, NC SBI, the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office and the Iredell County Sheriff's Office.

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