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Press Release

California Man Admits Plot to Distribute over 30 Pounds of Crystal Methamphetamine and Five Kilos of Fentanyl into New Jersey

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

CAMDEN, N.J. – A California man today admitted shipping approximately 30 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and conspiring to send an additional 5 kilograms of fentanyl into New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Jesus Zavala-Torres, 34, of San Jacinto, California, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of fentanyl. 

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In September 2018, law enforcement officers received information that an individual identified as Isabel Otanez-Sanchez, was shipping large quantities of narcotics to New Jersey from California. On Jan. 28, 2019, Sanchez agreed to send 30 pounds of methamphetamine to a law enforcement confidential source (the “CS”) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Torres and Sanchez hid 28 packages of methamphetamine inside a salvaged vehicle that was shipped from California to New Jersey. Agents recovered the 28 packages, totaling approximately 30 pounds, from the car’s gas tank. On Feb. 12, 2019, the CS met with Sanchez and Torres in Riverside, California. At this meeting, Sanchez and Torres also agreed to sell an additional five kilograms of fentanyl that would be shipped to the CS in New Jersey in the same manner as the methamphetamine. Following this meeting, Sanchez and Torres were arrested by law enforcement and the five kilograms of fentanyl they intended to ship to New Jersey were recovered. Sanchez and Torres were charged by criminal complaint in the District of New Jersey with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl.   

The conspiracy charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 17, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Cherry Hill, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael in Newark, with the investigation leading to the arrests. He also thanked HSI in Riverside, CA; the New Jersey State Police; the Hemet, California, Police Department; and the Atlantic City Task Force for their assistance.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Meriah Russell of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division in Camden.

Updated February 11, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 20-066