Hundreds of pounds of cocaine were smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. and Canada, and now one of the men responsible has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for it.
“A Torrance man who led a drug ring that used couriers to traffic hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Mexico into the United States and Canada has been sentenced to 135 months in prison on federal felony drug- and money laundering-related charges, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.
Forty-five-year-old Richard Manuel Pimentel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and money laundering in October 2018. He was one of four co-defendants in the case. Each pleaded guilty to felony charges.
“Between February 2013 and October 2014, Richard Pimentel coordinated with his co-defendants and other co-conspirators to distribute approximately 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of cocaine,” the DOJ said citing court documents. Pimentel admitted arranging couriers to transport the drugs from drug suppliers in Mexico into the U.S. and Canada. “He also admitted that he and his co-defendants arranged for the proceeds from cocaine sales – minus their fees – to be sent back to Mexico.”
“He also admitted to arranging the cash payment of a $400,000 debt owed to a cocaine supplier in September 2013,” the DOJ revealed, citing Pimentel’s plea agreement.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) briefed first lady Melania Trump last week on the sharp increases in overdose deaths including those attributed to cocaine combined with other drugs. Cocaine mixed with other drugs overdose deaths spiked in the three years from 2014 to 2017, multiplying from around 5,000 to 14,000 in that time.
The U.S. Coast Guard, DEA, and Department of Defense track cocaine smuggled north from South America and take part in more than 30 interdiction events every day.