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California-Based Heroin Distributor Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Prison on Drug Trafficking Charges

OCT 20 (CHARLOTTE, N.C.) - Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney sentenced Alberto Gasca, 31, of Los Angeles, California, to serve 128 months in prison and five years of supervised release on drug trafficking charges, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Gasca pleaded guilty in February 2015 to
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Daniel R. Salter, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, beginning in 2012, Gasca was a major drug distributor based in California, responsible for smuggling bulk drug shipments from Mexico. Court records show that Gasca used an extensive transportation network of couriers to traffic the heroin and other drugs, including methamphetamine, from Los Angeles to distribution cells throughout the United States, including the Charlotte area. According to court documents, Gasca’s couriers typically transported the heroin hidden in false compartments of large rolling suitcases. Law enforcement arrested Gasca in September 2014 in California. According to court records, at the time of his arrest, law enforcement seized from Gasca’s residence $108,000 in cash, drug scales, plastic packaging, kilogram wrappers, two kilograms of heroin, more than five ounces of methamphetamine and a ledger. Gasca’s prosecution is part of an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking of heroin from Mexico. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 50 pounds of heroin, and approximately $170,000 identified as drug proceeds.

Six other conspirators have been sentenced to date in connection with this investigation. Hector Manuel Castaneda Gastelo and Yolanda Gonzalez were each sentenced to 20 years in prison; Marcelino Rivera Vorquez was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison; Fernando Hernandez was sentenced to 7.25 years in prison; and Benjamin Villanueva Estrada was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. Another conspirator, Omar Kamirez Lizama is awaiting sentencing.

This prosecution is part of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint federal, state and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking and is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

Gasca is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The case was investigated by the DEA in Charlotte. In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the Ontario, California Police Department and the DEA’s Office in Los Angeles for their assistance with this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Greene of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is handling the prosecution.

The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, ww.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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