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Press Release

Shafter Man Pleads Guilty To Cocaine Smuggling

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A Shafter man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to import, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 38 kilograms, or about 84 pounds, of cocaine, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Jimmy Gil, aka Joselin Jimelet Gil Sanchez, aka Joselin Gil, aka Gilberto Sanchez, 35, of Shafter, pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle cocaine with Jose Luis Montoya-Salazar, aka Rafael Salazar-Sanchez (Montoya), 42, of Mexico City, and Luis Ricardo Eslava-Corral (Eslava), 42, of Sinaloa, Mexico. As part of the plea agreement, Gil will forfeit $3.1 million in cash that drug agents seized during the investigation of the case.

According to court documents, Gil 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 tractor 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 tractor trailer. Follow-up investigation resulted in the seizure of $3,104,661 in cash hidden in an asphalt roller at another location in Bakersfield. The seized cocaine has a street value of over $3 million.

Gil is scheduled to appear for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill in Fresno on July 27, 2015. Gil faces a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Eslava previously entered a guilty plea and is scheduled for sentencing on May 11, 2015. Any sentence imposed 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 against Montoya are still pending and are only allegations; Montoya is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Montoya, if convicted, and Eslava are subject to removal to Mexico after serving any prison sentence imposed.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the 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 is prosecuting the case.

Updated May 4, 2015

Press Release Number: Docket #: 1:14-cr-196 LJO