SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Tijuana-based drug trafficker who used teenagers as drug couriers was sentenced Monday by a San Diego judge to more than seven years in prison.
Osvaldo Mendivil-Tamayo, 22, admitted in a plea agreement that he and co-conspirators "specifically recruited high school students who crossed through the San Diego Ports of Entry daily," hiding drugs in backpacks, vehicles or on their persons while crossing into the U.S.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mendivil-Tamayo had a "leadership role in coordinating the movement of large quantities of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine to San Diego from Mexico."
He pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to import and conspiracy to distribute federally controlled substances. Seven others with lesser roles have been convicted and sentenced.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said that through a wiretap on his Snapchat account, federal agents intercepted messages in which Mendivil-Tamayo was provided identification documents for prospective juvenile couriers. He also paid others to recruit couriers on his behalf.
"Our youth are being used by drug traffickers to smuggle dangerous drugs across the border," said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. "We are aggressively prosecuting the recruiters who exploit children. But the children also need to know that trying to sneak dangerous drugs under the noses of authorities is risky business. Don't throw away your future."