TUCSON, Ariz. — Two Tucson men have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their role in a drug distribution ring that trafficked cocaine to at least five states, following a probe by the Tucson-area Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Joel Sesma-Garcia, 40, was sentenced Feb. 10 and Gerald Fidel Herrera, 41, was sentenced Jan. 30 by U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps. Judge Zipps ordered Sesma-Garcia to serve a term of 25 years, while Herrera received a 15-year sentence. According to investigators, the cocaine trafficking ring operated from 2008 to 2012.
Between the spring of 2008 and their arrest Aug. 9, 2012, Sesma-Garcia and Herrera conspired to distribute over 1,100 pounds of cocaine to co-conspirators in New York, Alabama, Ohio and Florida. The cocaine was transported from Tucson to the distribution cities concealed within false compartments in vehicles that were either driven by co-conspirators or hauled cross-country on commercial car haulers. The co-conspirators in the distribution cities sent approximately $12 million in bulk cash back to Tucson as payment for the drugs, hidden inside the same false compartments.
Investigators seized more than $2.5 million in bulk cash and 17 firearms from the organization over the course of the probe, during the execution of traffic stops and search warrants in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland, New York and Ohio. The organization used money generated by the cocaine sales to purchase dozens of vehicles, which were used for smuggling drugs and cash, and by Sesma-Garcia and his family. The luxury vehicles seized from Sesma-Garcia include a 2002 Ferrari Spyder, a 2008 Lamborghini Murcielago, a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, a 2008 Mercedes Benz AMG luxury sedan, a 2005 Hummer H2, a classic 1968 Chevy Camaro, and a 2001 Chevy Corvette.
Co-defendant Caleb Echeverria is scheduled to be sentenced April 6 while 10 additional co-conspirators were arrested and prosecuted in New York, Alabama, and Arizona in connection with this criminal organization.
In addition to HSI, other agencies participating on OCDETF’s Tucson Strike Force include the Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Tucson, South Tucson, and Sahuarita police departments. The prosecution was handled by Mary Sue Feldmeier and Josh Ackerman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.