Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett today sentenced Jesus Chaidez-Meza, age 40, residing in Baltimore, to 12 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Chaidez-Meza, a Mexican national, is a permanent legal resident of the United States. He was convicted after a Five-Day Trial; Distributed Almost 250 Kilograms of Cocaine in Less Than Four Months
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; and Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
“Drug dealing on the scale practiced by the Sinaloa cartel members in Baltimore fuels the violence that plagues the City,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “The Mexican Sinaloa cartel is one of the most dangerous international drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized crime syndicates threatening Americans today. By funneling wholesale quantities of drugs into the United States, the Sinaloa cartel drives up fatal overdoses and the gun violence in our streets that comes with the drug trade. We will continue to root out and bring to justice drug traffickers who bring deadly drugs to our neighborhoods and profit from the scourge of addiction.”
“The existence and influence of Mexican Drug Cartels in the city of Baltimore was well established through this investigation,” stated DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Orville Greene. “These relationships only further compound the challenges we already face in this city. With our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will endeavor to dismantle any organization that seeks to establish drug distribution networks in the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. “
According to evidence presented at his five-day trial, Chaidez-Meza was recruited and sent to Baltimore during the summer of 2016 to oversee drug distribution operations conducted by the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. His ability to lease premises and purchase vehicles for use in the drug operations made him well suited for spearheading this particular Sinaloa cell. He maintained a presence in the Baltimore area through the Spring of 2017, when two large money seizures by DEA agents and task force officers resulted in the cell changing personnel.
Testimony at trial showed that the Sinaloa cartel has been distributing large quantities of cocaine in the Baltimore area for years. The cartel uses various “cells” to accomplish its drug distribution, with truck drivers transporting drugs to the east coast and millions of dollars in drug proceeds to the west coast. Chaidez-Meza helped to manage the cell in Baltimore. Cartel members provided funds to Chaidez-Meza to purchase a car and to rent an apartment from which he conducted the illegal cartel business. According to trial evidence, Chaidez-Meza worked with another individual, known only as Chu-Chi. Chu-Chi was responsible for the distribution of cocaine to local customers and Chaidez-Meza was responsible for the collection of the proceeds of the sales.
Witnesses testified that from September through December 2016, trucks arrived monthly with loads of 60-70 kilograms of cocaine. The driver then transported money back to California, where it was unloaded, and ultimately sent to Mexico. In December 2016, the driver arrived in Baltimore without drugs. On December 11, 2016, Chaidez-Meza and Chu-Chi delivered bags of money to the driver, which the driver packed in a hidden compartment in the tractor portion of the truck, and began driving west. Law enforcement officers stopped the truck just outside Hagerstown, Maryland and recovered $1.2 million from the hidden compartment, representing the proceeds from the sale of approximately 35 kilograms of cocaine.
According to trial evidence, shortly after the seizure, Chaidez-Meza returned to Mexico, but resurfaced in Baltimore in the Spring of 2017, when he terminated the lease on his apartment and sold the car he had purchased, in an effort to cover his tracks and liquidate any remaining assets.
The evidence proved that over the course of the conspiracy, Chaidez-Meza was responsible for the distribution of almost 250 kilograms of cocaine and the collection of millions of dollars in drug proceeds.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur praised the DEA in Baltimore and Los Angeles, California and the Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys James G. Warwick and Jeffrey J. Izant, who prosecuted this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.