Mexican man gets 35 years in prison on drug, gun charges

A Mexican man who prosecutors said was a connection in a California-to-North Carolina drug trafficking ring has been sentenced to 35 years in prison on drug and other charges, according to federal authorities.

Jorge Molina-Sanchez, 35, was sentenced Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Charlotte.

He had been convicted by a jury in May 2013 of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine and at least 1 kilogram of heroin; conspiracy to launder proceeds of drug trafficking; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

The case had been investigated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the SBI and federal authorities.

According to federal court documents and testimony during the trial and Tuesday’s hearing, Molina-Sanchez and his co-conspirators obtained more than 350 kilograms of cocaine from a supplier in California between 2004 and 2011. The drugs had a street value of more than $30 million, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Molina-Sanchez and others in the ring transported the cocaine to North Carolina and distributed it to traffickers.

When Molina-Sanchez was arrested in October 2012, prosecutors said, he had three kilograms of cocaine, two handguns, and more than 100 rounds of ammunition. Court records showed that members of the drug ring used secret compartments in their vehicles to hide cocaine and heroin while transporting it.

Authorities said that after Molina-Sanchez’s trial last year, they searched one of his vehicles again and found a hidden compartment containing nearly $50,000 in cash and three handguns.

Prosecutors said Molina-Sanchez is among 14 defendants who have been convicted in the case.