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Justice News

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Illegal Alien Sentenced on Cocaine Trafficking and Firearms Charges

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An illegal alien with a prior felony drug trafficking conviction was sentenced today to more than 12 years in prison for cocaine distribution and firearms charges related to his involvement in a prolific cocaine trafficking network in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

“Alvarez is a recidivist armed drug dealer who has illegally entered the United States on multiple occasions,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger. “After a conviction for drug trafficking in 2007, in which he was discovered in a hotel room with methamphetamine and a loaded handgun, he was deported back to Mexico. Alvarez illegally returned to the United States sometime later and eventually resumed trafficking controlled substances while armed with a firearm. He clearly has no regard for our nation’s laws and borders and he poses a threat to our public safety.”

According to court documents, Homero Salgado Alvarez, 46, a citizen of Mexico, was previously convicted of drug distribution in 2007, and was subsequently deported to Mexico. He later returned to the United States, where he eventually resumed trafficking in controlled substances. When he came to the attention of law enforcement in late 2017, he was a wholesale cocaine distributor operating in southeastern North Carolina who was regularly trafficking in kilogram quantities of cocaine. The cocaine that Alvarez distributed made its way up from North Carolina to the greater Washington, DC area, including the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that criminal enterprises engaged in the illegal acquisition and distribution of narcotics in our communities cannot evade the law,” said Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office. “The FBI will work closely with our partners to continue to aggressively investigate and disrupt significant criminal enterprises.”

Alvarez, who also possessed a firearm for protection while carrying out his drug dealing, used coded language to refer to drugs, including “tires” to refer to quantities of cocaine. This was done to conceal his illegal activities from detection, as Alvarez did, in fact, work at a legitimate business selling used tires. When Alvarez was arrested, law enforcement found a total of 3 kilograms of cocaine hidden in his washing machine and bathroom, along with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.

This 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), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, Jesse R. Fong, 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 sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh prosecuted 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 local police and sheriff’s offices in northern Virginia as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (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 are 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; 1:18-cr-470.

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications
Updated April 19, 2019