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5 sentenced to prison following ICE-led drug investigation

NEW BERN, N.C. - Five Mexican nationals were sentenced on Monday to prison sentences ranging from 15 years to 35 years following their conviction on various drug-trafficking charges. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the investigation, assisted by the following agencies: North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, the Columbus County Sheriff's Office and the Bladen County Sheriff's Office.

The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, Eastern District of North Carolina, and ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Delbert Richburg.

The drug traffickers, all men, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan for trafficking cocaine and marijuana throughout southeastern North Carolina from 2002 to 2008.

Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz, 33, received 425 months' (35 years five months) imprisonment; Saul Cavillo-Rojas, 26, and Adolfo Jaimes-Cruz, 33, each received 248 months' (20 years eight months) imprisonment; Genaro Lara-Salgado, 32, received 180 months' (15 years) imprisonment, and Fredy Jaimes-Cruz, 26, received 270 months' (22½ years) imprisonment. The five defendants, who all reside in Hallsboro, N.C., also received five years supervised release following their imprisonment.

A federal grand jury returned a superseding criminal indictment on May 7. On Aug. 17, after an eight-day trial, a jury found all five defendants guilty of the following charges: conspiring to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms (11 pounds) or more of cocaine, aiding and abetting possession with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, aiding and abetting possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, aiding and abetting the maintenance of a drug-involved premise for the purpose of distributing cocaine, and possession of a firearm by an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States. Additionally, Fredy Jaimes-Cruz was found guilty of eluding examination and inspection by immigration officers, while all other defendants pleaded guilty to the charge prior to trial.

Also, Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz was found guilty, and Cavillo-Rojas pleaded guilty prior to trial, of aiding and abetting the distribution of 500 grams or more of cocaine and maintaining a drug-involved premise for the purpose of storing and distributing cocaine. In March 2008, after receiving information that Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz was illegally selling drugs, the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office working with deputies from Columbus and Bladen County Sheriff's Offices arranged a controlled purchase of cocaine from Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz. However, once the controlled purchase took place and officers stopped the vehicle involved in the deal, the driver was identified as Cavillo-Rojas. During the stop, another vehicle approached and stopped, which carried five Hispanic men. These additional five were questioned and one of the men was identified as Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz.

The investigation revealed that Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz placed a stash house in the name of co-defendant Juan Carlos Mendoza where Cavillo-Rojas, Adolfo Jaimes-Cruz, and Lara-Salgado lived.

These four along with Fredy Jaimes-Cruz had various roles in repackaging cocaine, which arrived every two weeks in 10- to 14-kilogram amounts, at the stash house.

Search warrants performed on the stash house and residence of Lorenzo Jaimes-Cruz, both located in Hallsboro, N.C., revealed several kilograms of cocaine, packaging and cutting equipment, and six firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Wells and Rudy E. Renfer, Eastern District of North Carolina, prosecuted this case.