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Mexican source for San Diego meth traffickers sentenced to 20 years

Mexican source for San Diego meth traffickers sentenced to 20 years
Even though he had fled to Mexico, Salvador Ojeda Amarillas was convicted of conspiracy to import 66 pounds of pure methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute it throughout San Diego. (Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border / CNG)

A major source of methamphetamine for San Diego trafficking organizations — who fled to Mexico during his 2009 trial and was a fugitive for several years — was sentenced in federal court this week to 20 years in prison.

Salvador Ojeda Amarillas, 62, of Culiacán, Sinaloa, was accused of coordinating the smuggling of meth from Mexico into San Diego and then distributing the drug throughout the county from 2003 to 2007, according to court records.

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He was arrested in May 2007 after a search of his Encanto home, where the Drug Enforcement Administration found three guns, including a loaded rifle within arm’s reach of his bed, as well as a scale with meth residue, authorities said.

Ojeda, a legal permanent resident with no previous criminal history, was out on bail during his trial but monitored by a GPS ankle device. Evidence presented at trial included dozens of wiretapped calls of him using coded language to conduct drug deals. A pound of meth was referred to as “an hour” or “a little car” that would cost “95,” or $9,500, according to the complaint. Money was referred to as “paper” or “title.”

Four people also testified that they’d received meth deliveries from him, authorities said.

After listening to the evidence and testimony during the second week of trial, Ojeda fled. He cut off his GPS bracelet and escaped to Mexico, where he remained a fugitive for several years until he was arrested by Mexican authorities.

He was still convicted at that trial, on charges of conspiracy to import 66 pounds of pure meth and conspiracy to distribute it throughout San Diego.

He was extradited to the U.S. in 2016 and sentenced on Tuesday.

U.S. Atty. Adam Braverman said the sentence showed Ojeda that “the United States never forgets.”

“Ojeda listened to mountains of evidence against him and decided to flee,” Braverman said in a statement. “The outcome of this case is a reminder that the government will pursue those who peddle drugs and violence in our communities for as long as it takes, and the consequences of running are severe.”

Ojeda’s arrest was part of a multiyear investigation by the DEA that produced 48 arrests and seized 68 pounds of meth, 15 guns and about $295,000, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Andres Chavez-Chavez, who headed a major meth ring in San Diego supplied by Ojeda, received more than 17 years in prison.

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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