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Press Release

Former California Resident Involved in Interstate Cocaine Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A former resident of Oxnard, California, pleaded guilty in federal court on April 10, 2024, to a drug trafficking charge, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

Christopher Andrew Salgado, 24, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge W. Scott Hardy to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.

In connection with the guilty plea, the Court was advised that, between March 2022 and September 2022, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) conducted an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The investigation revealed that a cocaine source of supply in California would mail parcels containing kilogram quantities of cocaine to a residence in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. After investigators seized a parcel containing two kilograms of cocaine before it reached the Aliquippa residence, the source of supply began sending the parcels to Salgado in West Virginia. Thereafter, mobile and electronic surveillance confirmed that Salgado would drive the parcel from West Virginia to the Pittsburgh International Airport, pick up co-defendant Jose Sanchez, who would arrive on flights from California, and transport both the parcel and Sanchez to another co-defendant, Romaro Foster Sr., in Aliquippa.

Following one re-supply of cocaine to Foster Sr., law enforcement followed Salgado as he drove Sanchez back to the Pittsburgh airport, and observed Salgado dispose of a box in the trash of a fast food restaurant parking lot. Investigators recovered the box, observing a shipping label with Salgado’s West Virginia address as well as drug packaging material within the box. A field test of the packaging revealed the presence of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance.

In August 2022, investigators seized a parcel sent from California to Salgado in West Virginia. The parcel contained approximately two kilograms of cocaine. Investigators conducted a controlled delivery operation of the parcel at Salgado’s residence, executing a federal search warrant at the residence in conjunction with the operation. From Salgado’s bedroom, investigators recovered another parcel sent from California to Salgado containing approximately two kilograms of cocaine, along with a loaded 9mm handgun, an empty pistol magazine, a box of ammunition, and a digital scale.

Judge Hardy scheduled sentencing for August 14, 2024. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than five years and up to 40 years in prison, a fine of $5 million, or both.

Under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court remanded Salgado to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan J. McKenna is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Salgado.

This prosecution is part of an OCDETF investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Updated April 11, 2024

Topic
Drug Trafficking