Feb 04 (RIVERSIDE, Calif.)– The leader of a drug trafficking organization based in the Inland Empire was sentenced today to 168 months of imprisonment by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.
Salvador Gonzalez-Chavez, 32, Fontana, was convicted last September of conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, heroin.
According to the sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors, Gonzalez-Chavez was the leader of a drug trafficking organization involving at least 19 other co-conspirators and his organization imported primarily heroin, as well as cocaine, from Mexico and distributed it to residents in the Inland Empire.
In 2011, local and federal authorities began investigating the organization after the City of Redlands and surrounding communities experienced a dramatic increase in heroin overdoses and other heroin-related incidents.
During the sentencing, government lawyers argued that the extreme dangers and addictiveness of heroin were best illustrated by an intercepted phone call that occurred on August 31, 2011 between a prospective buyer and a co-conspirator working for Gonzalez-Chavez's drug-trafficking organization. The prospective buyer tried to gain the co-conspirator's trust so that the co-conspirator would sell heroin to the buyer. To achieve this, the prospective buyer told the co-conspirator that the buyer was a friend of a certain individual -- an individual whom authorities knew had died of a heroin overdose on April 5, 2011 in Redlands at the buyer's house. At that point, the co-conspirator's concerns were alleviated, and the two agreed to meet up to conduct the heroin transaction.
The case against Gonzalez-Chavez is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with substantial assistance from the Redlands Police Department.