The leader of a drug trafficking organization who allegedly distributed heroin in Redlands was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison, a Department of Justice spokesman said.
Salvador Gonzalez-Chavez, 32, of Fontana, was convicted in September of conspiracy to distribute and possessing with intent to distribute heroin. He was sentenced Feb. 4 in Riverside by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.
Gonzalez-Chavez was leader of a drug trafficking organization involving at least 19 other co-conspirators, according to asentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors. His organization imported heroin and cocaine from Mexico and distributed it to residents in the Inland Empire, prosecutors said.
"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," Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a statement.
During sentencing for Gonzalez-Chavez, prosecutors argued "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," Mrozek said.
The prospective buyer tried to gain the co-conspirator's trust so that the co-conspirator would sell heroin to the buyer, according to prosecutors.
"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," Mrozek said.
At that point, the co-conspirator's concerns were eased, and the two agreed to meet up to conduct a heroin transaction, according to prosecutors.
The case against Gonzalez-Chavez resulted from investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, "with substantial assistance from the Redlands Police Department," Mrozek said.
To view Redlands-Loma Linda Patch video of Redlands police and Department of Justice officials announcing arrests and federal indictments in the case in April 2012, click here.