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April 17, 2018Newark, NJUnited StatesNarcotics

MS-13 member admits trafficking drugs to New Jersey from inside a California prison

NEWARK, N.J. – A member of MS-13 admitted trafficking methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine Monday to New Jersey from inside a California state prison. The guilty plea follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Luis Calderon, 32, aka "Lagrima," of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between August 2015 and November 2015, Calderon was incarcerated at the Calipatria State Prison in California. However, Calderon had access to multiple contraband cellular telephones, which he used to communicate with conspirators outside the prison.

Law enforcement officers lawfully-recorded numerous telephone conversations between Calderon and an MS-13 member based in New Jersey, identified in the indictment as “Individual-1.” Among other topics, Calderon and Individual-1 discussed plans to distribute crystal methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in the New Jersey area. Calderon and Individual-1 ultimately settled on that plan that involved Calderon and others outside the prison sending a package containing controlled substances to a business center in Edison, New Jersey.

Shortly before the package arrived, Calderon informed Individual-1 by telephone that he was sending Individual-1 a package containing four ounces each of heroin and cocaine. Calderon stated that the package would also likely contain two ounces or more of crystal methamphetamine. Calderon told Individual-1 that the total cost for the heroin, cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine was $9,000, and stated that Individual-1 could keep the proceeds made from selling the drugs once Individual-1 paid Calderon for the shipment. Calderon subsequently gave Individual-1 the names that would appear on the package and the tracking number.

On Nov. 4, 2015, federal agents lawfully intercepted and searched the package. The search revealed approximately 95.5 grams of heroin, 54.7 grams of cocaine, and 52.4 grams of methamphetamine hidden inside a box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls.

Calderon faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 25, 2018.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of HSI under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, with the investigation. He also thanked ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO), the Calipatria State Prison, the Plainfield Police Department, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamari Buxton of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division and James Donnelly, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent Crimes Unit.

Updated: 11/19/2020