Calif. men get 40 years for importing drugs


Crime Watch

September 24, 2005|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A federal judge sentenced two Los Angeles men this week to decades in prison for importing a huge amount of cocaine and marijuana into the Baltimore region, federal prosecutors announced yesterday.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. sentenced Jose Jesus Gutierrez, 31, yesterday to 40 years in prison for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and marijuana. On Thursday, the judge had sentenced co-defendant Laurencio Gonzalez, 36, to 45 years on the same charges.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, trial testimony showed Gonzalez and Gutierrez distributed over 600 kilograms of cocaine to drug dealers in the Baltimore area in 2002 and 2003.

Gutierrez recruited and managed couriers who transported the cocaine in vehicles from Los Angeles to Baltimore, collected money from dealers in Maryland and carried millions of dollars of drug proceeds back to Los Angeles and on to Tijuana, Mexico.

On May 25, after a one-week trial, Gutierrez and Gonzalez were convicted of conspiring to import large quantities of cocaine from Mexico into the United States.

Drug dealers who wished to purchase 200 kilograms or more of cocaine were required to permit cartel members to meet their families and would also have to travel to Tijuana to meet the bosses, according to authorities. This requirement, prosecutors said, was designed to use the dealers' families as collateral in the event large debts were not promptly paid.

Before trial, five other co-defendants from Los Angeles entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana and received sentences from almost four years to 13 years.

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