Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2013

A former Salisbury resident helped distribute more than $30 million worth of cocaine throughout North Carolina between 2004 and 2011, federal prosecutors say.
Jorge Molina-Sanchez, 24, was convicted by a federal jury in Charlotte on Friday of conspiring to distribute and heroin, among other charges, Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a news release. The jury returned the guilty verdict following a three-day trial which ended late Friday afternoon.
He faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000,000, and at least five years of supervised release upon his release from prison. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
Molina-Sanchez lived at 620 W. Franklin St. in Salisbury until he fled the area to avoid capture, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said. He was eventually arrested in Charlotte in October.
A federal criminal indictment filed in 2012 charged Molina-Sanchez with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine and at least one kilogram of heroin, conspiracy to launder proceeds of drug trafficking, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. He was found guilty of all charges.
The news release said filed documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony showed that from 2004 through 2011, Molina-Sanchez and others obtained hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from a supplier in California. They transported the cocaine and redistributed it to other traffickers, who sold the drugs — with a street value of more than $30 million —throughout North Carolina.
To avoid detection, Molina-Sanchez and his co-conspirators transported the cocaine and the drug proceeds in hidden compartments in vehicles. In March 2011, law enforcement found tens of thousands of dollars hidden in the air filter of a vehicle and in a void in the trunk of a car.
In July 2011, officers discovered and seized from a vehicle three kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of heroin, and $138,460 in cash. Also in July 2011, while executing a search warrant, at Molina-Sanchez’s house, investigators found a hand-drawn map of the location where his sister had been stopped in Utah with 11 kilograms of cocaine in February 2011.
Additional trial evidence included September 2011 telephone conversations in which Molina-Sanchez asked a former co-conspirator to go to Las Vegas to inspect a vehicle and to transport cocaine back to North Carolina.
When officers arrested Molina-Sanchez in October, he was in possession of almost three ounces of cocaine, two handguns, and more than 100 rounds of ammunition, the news release said.
Molina-Sanchez has been in local federal custody since his arrest and will remain in custody until his sentencing date, which has not yet been set.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in Charlotte and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and its crime laboratory, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and its crime laboratory, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman prosecuted the case.