A man who used children to smuggle heroin into the United States from Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry was sentenced Monday to nearly six years in federal prison.
Josue Lomeli, 24, pleaded guilty in January to employing a minor to violate drug laws.
"Importation of heroin -- a highly dangerous and addictive drug -- is in itself an egregious crime," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. "That unlawful act is made much more egregious when a cavalier drug trafficker shifts the risks of smuggling heroin onto the backs of mere children. We will take all appropriate enforcement actions to deter this kind of activity."
In handing down the 70-month term, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff called the facts of the case "chilling" because of the dangers the children faced when they were used as body carriers by drug traffickers.
Lomeli was paid to recruit and guide people with drugs concealed under their clothing into the United States from Mexico through the pedestrian lanes at the San Ysidro border crossing.
The defendant admitted to guiding at least six people into the United States on 10 separate occasions.
Lomeli further admitted that he was present at a residence in Tijuana when narcotics were secured to the minors' bodies. The defendant said he thought the packages contained methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.