Kern County Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Cocaine Smuggling
Over $3.1 Million Cash to Be Forfeited
FRESNO, Calif. —Jimmy Gil, aka Joselin Jimelet Gil Sanchez, aka Joselin Gil, aka Gilberto Sanchez, 35, of Shafter, was sentenced today to five years in prison for conspiring with Jose Luis Montoya-Salazar, (Montoya), 42, of Mexico City, and Luis Ricardo Eslava-Corral (Eslava), 42, of Sinaloa, Mexico, to import, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 38 kilograms, or about 84 pounds, of cocaine, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. In a separate civil proceeding, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill ordered the forfeiture of $3,104,661 in cash that agents seized during the investigation of the criminal case.
Gil’s sentence follows his guilty plea in May 2015. In pleading guilty, Gil admitted that he had conspired with Eslava, the driver of a tractor trailer containing cocaine smuggled into the United States from Mexico at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, to a location in Bakersfield. After Gil took possession of the tractor trailer, he and Montoya began unloading 18 one-kilogram packages of cocaine from a hidden compartment in the underside of the trailer and placing the cocaine in Montoya’s vehicle. Gil and Montoya were arrested before they were able to unload 20 more kilograms of cocaine concealed in the trailer. Follow-up investigation resulted in the seizure of $3,104,661 in cash hidden in an asphalt roller at the residence of an associate of Gil. The seized cocaine has a street value of over $3 million.
“Through our joint enforcement efforts, we’ve dismantled a criminal organization that posed a serious public safety threat, as evidenced by the amount of cocaine seized,” said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Bakersfield. “As this sentence demonstrates, HSI is working closely with its law enforcement partners to prevent these dangerous and addictive drugs from reaching our streets and ensure the perpetrators of such attempts are brought to justice.”
“This investigation began with a tremendous amount of inter-agency coordination and finished with good old fashioned police work. The forfeiture of $3.1 million has dealt a substantial blow to this criminal organization and these illicit proceeds will be put back into communities through local law enforcement efforts,” stated DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano.
Eslava and Montoya previously pleaded guilty. On July 20, 2015, Eslava was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison. Montoya is scheduled to be sentenced on September 21, 2015.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force, Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, and Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar prosecuted the criminal case against Gil. Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Khasigian handled the civil forfeiture proceeding.