Men Arrested In Bakersfield Indicted For Cocaine Smuggling
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Jimmy Gil, 34, of Shafter, Jose Luis Montoya-Salazar, (Montoya), 42, of Mexico City, and Luis Ricardo Eslava-Corral (Eslava), 42, of Sinaloa, Mexico, charging them with conspiring to import, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Montoya was also charged with being an alien found in the United States after two prior deportations.
According to court documents, on August 19, 2014, Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa, California Port of Entry discovered cocaine in a hidden compartment in the floor of a trailer that was being driven by Eslava. Federal agents were called in and began following the truck. The truck made stops in San Diego and San Clemente and on August 20, 2014, continued driving toward Bakersfield. Gil met the truck at a site south of Bakersfield and took possession of the tractor trailer. Gil and Montoya began unloading 18 one-kilogram packages of cocaine from the compartment in the floor of the trailer and placed the packages in Montoya’s vehicle. Gil and Montoya were arrested before they were able to unload the remaining packages of cocaine. Follow-up investigation resulted in the seizure of over $3.1 million in cash hidden in an asphalt roller at another location in Bakersfield. Thirty-eight kilograms of cocaine were seized with an estimated street value of over $3 million.
This case was the product of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the 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 is prosecuting the case.
The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on September 8, 2014. If convicted of the drug conspiracy, they face 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Montoya also faces a maximum prison term of two years and a fine of $250,000, if convicted of being a deported alien found in the United States. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Eslava and Montoya are subject to deportation to Mexico after serving any prison sentence imposed.