Members of street gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels sentenced to prison


Nearly three years after the massive Salt Lake City drug bust, more than 30 members of the Norteños street gang have been sentenced to prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Sandy-based mogul Joseph Gomez was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a US District Court judge on December 7. Gomez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to launder money.

The other 31 members of the gang pleaded guilty on December 7, and most received sentences of six to eight years in prison, the US Attorney’s Office said. Four other defendants at a lower level have yet to be sentenced.

Investigators identified the first group of Norteños in the mid-1980s and found several other subsets in the early 1990s. Many unaffiliated street gangs began associating under Norteños auspices in the early 1990s. early 2000s and the Salt Lake Valley has about 10 active subsets with about 100 to 150 active members, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the gang was responsible for the sale of heroin and methamphetamine in the Salt Lake area – as well as for drive-by shootings, assaults, robberies and aggravated murders.

“Through a sophisticated and transnational for-profit criminal conspiracy; Gang members have brought illegal guns, drugs and violence to our streets,” David Booth, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said in a statement. declare. “This multi-year investigation is proof that there are no boundaries of place or time in our violent criminal pursuit.”

The ATF and the Salt Lake Area Metro Gang Unit began investigating Salt Lake street gangs, including the Norteños, targeting drug and gun sales in June 2018. The Drug Enforcement Administration Drugs and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Branch joined the investigation for the next two months.

Evidence showed that the 32 defendants were involved in a “typical drug trafficking scheme,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which moved the drugs from Mexico and Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, distributed them, and collected them. money from sales.

Investigators discovered Gomez and Denny Kandt worked with Mexican drug cartel members to distribute shipments of methamphetamine and heroin for sale to small distributors around the Salt Lake Valley.

The United States Attorney’s Office said law enforcement arrested more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine, 19 guns and more than $20,000 in cash during the investigation. The office reports that Norteños traffic about 20 to 30 pounds of methamphetamine to Utah each month.

Federal prosecutors indicted a total of 38 defendants as a result of the investigation, with the main indictment involving Gomez, Kandt and 30 other defendants convicted last week.

“This prosecution highlights high-profile drug distribution networks targeting our state and communities, and law enforcement partnerships that allow us to disrupt drug trafficking organizations. drugs from the corporate level to the street vendors,” Acting U.S. Attorney Andrea T. Martinez said in a statement. Members of street gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels sentenced to prison

Yasmin Harisha

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