California customs agent found guilty of conspiracy to smuggle drugs for LA to Chicago

A federal customs officer accused of hiring a trucker to smuggle large quantities of drugs throughout the country was found guilty in Los Angeles, according to reports.

Manual Salas, 52, was convicted of federal conspiracy Thursday, along with his 50-year-old ex-wife Sayda Orellana. She was also found guilty of money laundering.

Salas is a 25-year veteran of the U. S. Customs and Border Protection, which is suspended.

He worked at three Southern California airports, including Los Angeles International Airport.

In 2012, a trucker was caught on the transport of 572 kg of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in New Mexico, KTLA-TV reported. The drugs were worth $1.5 million.

“The commercial truck driver, who later pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, told law enforcement that he worked with Salas and Orellana, the transportation of the narcotics to Chicago and had done on multiple occasions,” the station quoted Justice spokesman Ciaran McEvoy as saying.

“When he drove a truck to Chicago, he would receive cash proceeds for narcotics, and then Salas and Orellana would give him money in various bank accounts, including an account of Orellana’s name,” McEvoy said.

The pair has an April 15 sentencing date and each face a minimum of 10 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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