“HEARST” for Borderland Beat
Roberto Salazar, a US Marine was caught main a Mexican drug smuggling group throughout his army service the place he recruited discharged Marines into performing as drug runners. This week a choose sentenced him to 12 years in jail.
Exterior of an American federal court docket, U.S. Legal professional Randy Grossman instructed reporters “Roberto Salazar served as a Marine, however he was additionally main a secret life as a drug trafficker and a frontrunner of a drug-trafficking group.”
“He was presupposed to be defending and defending our nation, however as an alternative he was bringing super hurt to People by importing fentanyl and different lethal, harmful medication into america.”
How All of it Started
All through his childhood, Roberto Salazar II break up his time between the US and Mexico, usually touring into the Mexican border metropolis of Tijuana
His protection lawyer Andrew Nietor claimed Roberto was indoctrinated into the drug world by his father, Roberto Salazar I, who was “each abusive and absent.” When Roberto was simply 9 or 10 years previous, his father was deported again to Mexico.
Roberto’s journeys throughout the border took on a brand new nature in 2013, when 16-year previous Roberto started smuggling people into the US. Roberto switched to smuggling medication, particularly heroin, later that yr.
When Roberto turned 18, he started attending Southwestern School, positioned in Chula Vista, California. There, he recruited one among his school classmates into drug operating for him.
Over the past two years, Roberto had grown to favor a specific smuggling technique wherein autos stashed with medication had been pushed throughout the US border, by way of authorized ports of entry.
Roberto most well-liked to make the most of BMW autos which had been recognized to have a “distinctive engine compartment” that was excellent for stashing medication inside. The design of this engine compartment appeared innocuous and was usually ignored by US border brokers.
Roberto targeted on acquiring the precise autos for the scheme and paid others, resembling his school classmate, to do the precise driving.
Throughout drug runs, the drivers took Roberto’s autos throughout the border, parking them at a particular auto store in Tijuana. Employees on the auto store loaded up the autos with medication after which the drivers would take the autos again throughout the border.
In 2016, when Roberto was 19, his school classmate acquired busted on the San Ysidro border crossing with 5 kilos of cocaine and greater than 20 kilos of methamphetamine – all hidden inside a automobile. Roberto’s involvement with the drug cargo, nevertheless, by no means got here to mild and he continued to recruit extra drivers.
The Drug Smuggling Marine
In 2018, Roberto, now 21-year previous, joined the US Marines. Based on US prosecutors, the one time Roberto ever paused his drug operating schemes was throughout Marine Corp boot camp and he resumed them shortly after boot camp ended.
He was finally stationed in San Diego, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar the place he labored as a radio operator. He continued managing his drug smuggling operation as an lively responsibility US Marine.
Roberto’s lawyer claims that he solely resumed drug trafficking on account of monetary considerations. The Los Angeles Times writes that in this era, Roberto gained full custody of his daughter. Roberto’s lawyer claims he started smuggling once more as a result of he was struggling to make ends meet “whereas residing on the wages of an enlisted Marine.”
Roberto’s plea settlement detailed how he would typically forgo utilizing drivers and make the smuggling journey throughout the border himself.
In 2020, Roberto commissioned a Mexican musician to put in writing a music about his life and success in drug smuggling.
This kind of fee is frequent observe within the Mexican underworld. Bands are sometimes paid to put in writing a narcocorrido, a mode of Mexican ballad which praises against the law determine’s successes, by the crime lords themselves.
Based on prosecutors, Roberto advised particular lyrics like “I needed to review and I grew to become a soldier, however I appreciated the quick life higher” to the musician. The San Diego Tribune provides that Roberto needed the music to brag about his talents as a US soldier. Whether or not the commissioned music was ever launched is at present unclear.
In 2021, Roberto took discover of two lately discharged US Marines. He approached them and finally recruited them to turn into drivers in his operation. The Justice Department’s press release particulars that Roberto paid the previous Marines $2000 USD for every profitable smuggling run.
One of many former Marines moved 5 shipments efficiently throughout the border. The opposite made a lot of journeys however was caught in September 2021, on the San Ysidro border crossing with 14 kilos of fentanyl. The US Legal professional’s Workplace launched the picture above which exhibits the bundle of fentanyl that border officers discovered hidden within the automobile.
It All Catches Up To You
In January 2022, one among Roberto’s drug runners was trying to make a heroin supply in Las Vegas when police caught on to him. In a determined transfer, the drug runner left a kilogram of heroin on the shelf of a grocery retailer and fled from the cops,
In one other failed try and ship medication to Las Vegas, one among Salazar’s accomplices dropped a kilogram of heroin on a grocery retailer shelf and fled from the police. The San Diego Tribune writes that Roberto Salazar was “personally concerned” within the Vegas heroin deal and means that this incident in the end led to Roberto’s undoing.
In one other failed try and ship medication in Las Vegas, one among Salazar’s co-conspirators deserted a kilogram of heroin on a grocery retailer shelf and fled from legislation enforcement.
Then issues actually started to disintegrate for Roberto. Certainly one of his couriers was pulled over by an officer on Interstate 5 in Oceanside and caught with greater than 13 kilos of fentanyl in his automotive. One other courier was stopped on the Otay Mesa port of entry with greater than 17 kilos of fentanyl in his automotive.
Earlier than the yr ended, 26-year previous Roberto Salazar was arrested on a number of drug-trafficking costs.
In October 2022, Roberto pled responsible in to conspiring to distribute managed substances, together with heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, and to importing fentanyl into america from Mexico.
In April 2023, Roberto was sentenced to 12 years in jail
Grossman, the U.S. lawyer, declined to say whether or not Salazar’s trafficking group was related with any of Mexico’s giant cartels.
NCIS Particular Agent in Cost Todd Battaglia stated that “Mr. Salazar betrayed his oath to the Marine Corps and posed a major menace to our nationwide safety by collaborating in an unlawful operation to smuggle fentanyl into america.”