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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 21, 2018

Illegal Alien Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Trafficking and Firearms Charges

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An illegal alien with a prior felony drug trafficking conviction pleaded guilty today to cocaine trafficking and firearms charges.

According to court documents, Homero Salgado Alvarez, 46, a Mexican national, was a cocaine supplier residing in Sanford, North Carolina. Alvarez admitted to supplying a co-conspirator with quantities of cocaine, which the co-conspirator would transport from North Carolina back to the greater Washington, DC area. The co-conspirator sold approximately 3/4 kilogram of cocaine he acquired from Alvarez to undercover law enforcement.

Although Alvarez worked at an apparently legitimate business that includes a used tire retail shop, Alvarez and his co-defendants used the term “tires,” as well as other coded language, to communicate about their drug trafficking activities in order to conceal them from law enforcement. When Alvarez was arrested in October, law enforcement found approximately three kilograms of cocaine hidden in Alvarez’s washing machine and bathroom. Agents also discovered a handgun, which Alvarez has admitted to possessing for protection when conducting his cocaine trafficking business.

Alvarez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Based on his prior drug trafficking conviction and the charges to which he pleaded guilty, Alvarez faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison when sentenced on April 5, 2019. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Operation Tomb Stone.  The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of a renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division at the Washington Field Office, Scott W. Hoernke, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, and Barry M. Barnard, Chief of Prince William County Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh is prosecuting the case, with significant assistance from Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Gwendelynn Bills.

This investigation was led by FBI Washington Field Office’s Safe Streets/HIDTA Task Force. The Task Force is composed of FBI Agents along with investigators from the Prince William County Police, the Fairfax County Police, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Leesburg Police Department, Alexandria City Police, Vienna Police, Herndon Police and ICE. Significant assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, FBI’s Charlotte Field Office, DEA’s Greensboro Resident Agency, and the Police Departments of Sanford, North Carolina and Fayetteville, North Carolina.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 1:18-CR-380 and 1:18-CR-470.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated December 21, 2018