Two more arrested in major Salt Lake Valley cocaine operation
SALT LAKE CITY — Two more people wanted in connection with a major cocaine ring in the Salt Lake Valley have been arrested.
Investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration say the couple had roles in a cocaine operation that involved selling to more than 100 customers a day in Salt Lake County, according to charging documents, raking in an estimated $1,000 to $2,000 a day.
The arrests bring the total number of arrests tied to the group to 11 in the past year. And DEA agents say they are still looking for at least four other suspects.
Juana Rodriguez, 45, and husband Agustin Rojas-Ramirez, 46, were arrested on warrants charging them with money laundering and engaging in a criminal enterprise.
The drug distribution was "all done over phones," said DEA supervisory special agent Richard Hardman.
For one month, between November and December 2012, DEA agents said they used a state wiretap investigation to intercept about 3,210 calls from about 210 numbers.
All the calls went though one "dispatcher," Hardman said.
"They would take all the phone calls from people ordering up and that person would then dispatch various drivers to meet this people at locations throughout the valley and drop off however much cocaine they ordered up," he said. "He basically was running a cell with numerous customers, supplying cocaine — personal use amounts — but to numerous customers throughout the Salt Lake City area."
The first round of arrests came last December. The second round was in May when three people were arrested. It was at that time that the man suspected of orchestrating the ring, Guillermo Delfin-Salto, was picked up and charged in 3rd District Court with engaging in a drug enterprise, a first-degree felony; conspiracy to engage in a drug criminal enterprise, engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, second-degree felonies; and drug distribution, a class B misdemeanor.
Much of his money was shipped to the man's mother in Mexico who was using it to make land acquisitions, according to charging documents. But investigators say Delfin-Salto rarely, if ever, touched the drugs or money himself. He was accused of essentially quarterbacking drug deals from the privacy of his house.
Prior to his arrest last year, Delfin-Salto had been convicted twice of drug distribution and deported once. He tried to stay a step ahead of police by using decoys to see if officers were following him, according to court documents.
He fled to California after his most recent charges were filed, but was arrested during a traffic stop near San Bernardino. He was convicted in state court in June. Delfin-Salto was then charged in federal court and found guilty last month of aggravated re-entry into the United States. He was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. Delfin-Salto faces possible deportation again after he serves his time in federal prison.
Last week, DEA agents rounded up the alleged money holders of the operation. According to court documents, Delfin-Salto would tell Rodriguez who to send money to in Mexico and how much. Those names came from Delfin-Santo's mother, according to charging documents.
Since the DEA started its crackdown of the operation about a year ago, agents have seized about four kilos of cocaine, 6 ½ pounds of methamphetamine, a half-pound of heroin and about $60,000 cash, Hardman said.
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