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Justice News

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Confirmed MS-13 gang member sentenced for role in cocaine distribution operation

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Miguel Angel Cruz-Polanco, a confirmed MS-13 gang member and a citizen of El Salvador, was sentenced today to 137 months incarceration for his involvement with a multi-state drug trafficking operation, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Polanco, age 35, pled guilty to one count of “Aiding and Abetting the Distribution of Cocaine” and one count of “Reentry of a Removed Alien” in September 2018. Cruz-Polanco admitted to selling cocaine in Berkeley County in October 2016, as well as reentering the country illegally.

“The sentence imposed by the court on Mr. Polanco concludes one chapter of a wide-ranging and significant drug and gun investigation in the Eastern Panhandle. Mr. Polanco was a member of the MS-13 gang whose members routinely engage in violence and other criminal activity, including the sale of drugs to finance their activities.  Mr. Polanco was also in this country illegally.  We will continue to continue to aggressively prosecute all those who bring drugs and violence to our communities.  This defendant, and all of the others who have been or who will be sentenced, could not have been brought to justice without the many months of hard work by our task force officers and prosecutors.  We owe them a debt of thanks,” said Powell.   

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shawn M. Adkins and Lara K. Omps-Botteicher prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Virginia assisted. The investigation is led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Marshals Service, the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, the Potomac Highlands Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug & Gang Task Force , the West Virginia State Police, the Virginia State Police, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Martinsburg Police Department, the Charles Town Police Department, and the Ranson Police Department. Other agencies assisting in the investigation are the Winchester City Police Department; and Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office; Pittsylvania County; Virginia Sheriff’s Office; and the Henry County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation was funded in part by the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program (OCDETF). The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh presided.

Drug Trafficking
Updated March 19, 2019