A former sailor sentenced for leading a drug trafficking ring

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A former U.S. Marine who operated a ring that transported tons of cocaine into the country from South America via Mexico has been sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison, it was announced Wednesday. .

Angel Dominguez Ramirez Jr., who holds both U.S. and Mexican citizenship, was sentenced in San Diego on Tuesday after pleading guilty last fall to conspiracy to launder money and traffic drugs in internationally, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Ramirez, 50, of Tamaulipas, Mexico, will receive nearly six years credit which he has already served behind bars.

Prosecutors said Dominguez led a group calling itself El Seguimiento 39, El Seg 39, or simply “The Company,” which was allied with Mexican drug operations such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the notoriously violent Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel. .

At its peak, the organization smuggled about 10 tons (9,072 kilograms) of cocaine per month into the United States and sent at least $10 million in drug proceeds back to Mexico per month, authorities estimated.

“The wiretap evidence demonstrates that he was in control of every aspect of his organization,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Martin wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

The group used its contacts with high-level corrupt Mexican officials to thwart investigations, authorities said, including Ivan Reyes Arzate, a federal police commander who was sentenced in February in New York to 10 years in prison for drug traffic.

In her own sentencing memorandum, Ramirez’s attorney said her decision to turn to crime was influenced by difficulties finding ways to support herself after a 1994 crash in North Carolina where Ramirez was killed. swerved onto a side road to avoid hitting a deer. His car rolled off a bridge into the water.

The accident killed his two daughters, aged 3 and 4, and Ramirez was seriously injured, ending his Navy career.

“He never made an apology for the direction he took, only to say that after the accident he stopped caring. He was numb,” attorney Nancee Schwartz wrote. in the memo, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “He didn’t think about the consequences or care because he had been through the worst.”

Struggling to find work, Ramirez was 27 when he agreed to deliver a shipment of marijuana from Mexico, but was arrested in Texas and spent about a year in federal prison.

A construction business he started with his brother-in-law failed, and Ramirez moved his family to Mexico in 2007 to work with a cousin who was an architect.

There he met drug dealers and saw work as a way to support his family, his lawyer said.

He was arrested in 2016 and extradited to San Diego, where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.

During a multinational investigation, authorities seized more than 4.74 tons (4,300 kilograms) of cocaine.