June 27, 2013
San Jose woman part of DEA investigation
GULFPORT — A California woman said to be part of a violent Mexican drug cartel has been sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison for a meth-trafficking conspiracy investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Gulfport.
Maria Guadelupe Mendoza, 36, of San Jose, was sentenced Wednesday to a prison term of 21 years and 10 months for conspiring to distribute 101.4 pounds of meth in Harrison County and surrounding areas.
Maria Guadelupe Mendoza, 36
“She is part of the Jalisco New Generation cartel,” said agent Daniel Comeaux, who leads the DEA’s Gulfport office.
“It is a highly violent drug-trafficking organization that is providing large amounts of methamphetamine to the United States and the Gulf Coast. We are aggressively investigating all possible angles of the organization and any possible ties to our region.”
Jalisco is considered the newest, fastest-growing Mexican cartel and is believed responsible for deadly massacres in turf wars with other cartels in recent years. Jalisco declared war on all other Mexican cartels in 2011.
Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. also imposed five years of probation for Mendoza.
She is among five California residents arrested after the DEA received a tip in August that Mendoza was in Gulfport to set up a meeting with a meth transporter in Mobile. Undercover agents said they followed her to Alabama and witnessed the drug transfer in a fast-food parking lot next to a hotel on Moffett Road.
Also Wednesday, the judge sentenced Jefferson Daniel Silver, 26, of Rialto, to 11 years and five months in prison and an $8,000 fine for his role in the conspiracy.
Authorities said Silver hid the meth in a duffel bag while taking a cross-country trip with his mother, an over-the-road truck driver. Angela Silver, 44, was held for nearly nine months, maintaining she didn’t know her son had meth. Her charges were dismissed.
Two others were sentenced in Gulfport in May.
Lorenzo Mario Acosta, 24, of Gilroy, received a four-year prison term and a $3,000 fine for interstate travel in aid of drug racketeering enterprises.
Norma Gallegos Martinez, 33, also of Gilroy, pleaded guilty to misprision of felony, meaning she was aware a crime was being committed but did not report it. She received credit for time served, the seven months she was held in South Mississippi since her arrest with Acosta in California.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie prosecuted the case.