CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Charlotte federal jury convicted a Mexican man Friday of conspiring to distribute cocaine and heroin throughout North Carolina following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Jorge Molina-Sanchez, 24, of Mexico, was found guilty following a three-day trial which ended late Friday afternoon. A federal criminal indictment filed in October 2012 charged Molina-Sanchez with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine and at least one kilogram of heroin, conspiracy to launder proceeds of drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. He was found guilty of all charges.
According to filed documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony:
From in or about 2004 through 2011, Molina-Sanchez and his co-conspirators obtained hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from a supplier in California. The defendant and his co-conspirators transported the cocaine and redistributed it to other traffickers, who sold the cocaine throughout North Carolina. The street value of the cocaine was in excess of $30,000,000.
To avoid detection, Molina-Sanchez and his co-conspirators transported the cocaine and the drug proceeds hidden in compartments in vehicles. On one occasion, in March 2011, law enforcement found tens of thousands of dollars hidden in the air filter of a vehicle and in a void in the trunk of a car. In July 2011, law enforcement officers discovered and seized from a vehicle three kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of heroin and $138,460 in cash. Also in July 2011, while executing a search warrant, law enforcement discovered in Molina-Sanchez’s house a hand-drawn map of the location where the defendant’s sister had been stopped in Utah with eleven kilograms of cocaine in February 2011. Additional trial evidence included telephone conversations in September 2011, during which Molina-Sanchez asked a former co-conspirator to go to Las Vegas to inspect a vehicle and to transport cocaine back to North Carolina. When officers arrested Molina-Sanchez in October 2012, he was in possession of almost three ounces of cocaine, two handguns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.
Molina-Sanchez has been in local federal custody since he was arrested in October 2012 and will remain in custody until his sentencing date, which has not yet been set.
Molina-Sanchez faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000,000, and at least five years of supervised release upon his release from prison. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The case was investigated by HSI and RCSO, assisted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and its crime laboratory, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and its crime laboratory, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman.