FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against three men – Jimmy Gil, 34, of Shafter, Jose Luis Montoya-Salazar, 42, of Mexico City, Mexico and Luis Ricardo Eslava-Corral, 42, of Sinaloa, Mexico – charging them with conspiring to import, distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Montoya was also charged with re-entering the United States following deportation.
The case is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force, Kern County Sheriff's Office, Tulare County Sheriff's Office and Bakersfield Police.
Court documents filed in the case reveal that on Aug.19, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry discovered cocaine in a hidden compartment in the floor of a trailer that was being driven by Eslava-Corral. HSI agents were called in and began following the truck, which proceeded to make stops in San Diego and San Clemente on its way toward Bakersfield. Gil met the truck at a site south of Bakersfield, where he and Montoya began unloading 18 one-kilogram packages of cocaine from the compartment in the floor of the trailer and placing the packages in Montoya's vehicle.
Gil and Montoya were arrested before they were able to unload the remaining packages of cocaine. Follow-up investigation by HSI resulted in the seizure of over $3.1 million in cash hidden in an asphalt roller at another location in Bakersfield. Thirty-eight kilograms of cocaine were seized with an estimated street value of over $3 million.
The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 8. If convicted of the drug conspiracy, they face 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. Montoya also faces a maximum prison term of two years and a fine of $250,000, if convicted of being a deported alien found in the United States.
If convicted, Eslava and Montoya are subject to deportation to Mexico after serving any prison sentence imposed.