U.S. Marine gets 12 years for cross-border drug smuggling : NPR
US Customs and Border Protection via AP
SAN DIEGO — A former Marine who for years helped smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States and even tried to get a song written to glorify his exploits was sentenced Friday to 12 years in federal prison.
Roberto Salazar II, 26, of San Diego was convicted of importing fentanyl and conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office.
Salazar, who pleaded guilty last October, could have been sentenced to life in prison.
He was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The prosecutors said that before he joined the corps and while he was on active duty, he and a courier he recruited made dozens of smuggling trips from one side of the border to the other.
Salazar would get cars that were driven to Mexico, where the drugs were loaded into the engine compartments. Couriers then drive them back across the border into the United States, prosecutors said.
The scheme started around 2015, the authorities said.
By the time of his arrest last year, “Salazar had become so involved in drug trafficking that he was commissioning a Mexican songwriter to write a drug ballad known as a ‘narcocorrido’ about him,” he said the US attorney’s office.
“In one line that Salazar suggested to the songwriter, he boasted: ‘I wanted to study and became a soldier, but I liked the fast life better,'” the office said.
Some of the couriers recruited by Salazar were former Marines or classmates at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.
“This case involved a Marine who was supposed to protect and defend our country, but instead brought great harm to Americans with the trafficking of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs,” said American Attorney Randy Grossman. “He also betrayed his solemn oath by recruiting other Marines to do the same.”