|Salvador Lemus, 65|
The head of a smuggling ring accused of bringing more than $60 million of cocaine into the United States was arrested this week as part of a sting that pinched a total of forty-four people.
Salvador Lemus, 65, was arrested in Chester County, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, where he ran a landscaping business. Lemus, also known by his nickname 'El Vejo' (The Old One), is accused of being the head of a family crime syndicate that trafficked cocaine out of the family's home, in East Marlborough Township.
Authorities claim that Lemus had ties with 'La Familia', a notorious Mexican cartel. He was assisted in his business by his family, including his son and nephew.
Lemus' illicit activities were caught by law enforcement after Operation Telarana, an endeavor where authorities wiretapped Lemus's cellphone. Prior to this, Lemus had kept the same phone number during the 20 years he had lived and operated in Chester County.
'My phone, my phone - nobody can track it.' Lemus allegedly told an associate after it was suggested that he change his phone number. 'I have 20 years with my number.'
Lemus' drug-dealing activity was well-known to authorities. However, prior to the successful execution of Operation Telarana, law enforcement found difficulty getting information from other Mexican residents in the area, who feared Lemus and his ties to the cartel.
'These are groups that kill cops, kill prosecutors, kill judges and don’t think twice about killing civilians,' Thomas Hogan, District Attorney in Chester County, Pennsylvania told CBS3.
However, the operation commenced once confidential informants inside of the smuggling ring began to cooperate with authorities. In addition, hundreds of phone calls were recorded in an effort to build a case against Lemus.
According to Hogan, the dealers managed to evade the attention of the authorities by holding down day jobs while selling the drugs at night.
'These guys are going to be working in mushroom houses. They are going to be working in blue collar jobs. They are going to be working in auto repair shops. They are going to be working in landscaping jobs during the day,' Hogan said.
According to the Phildelphia Inquirer, Lemus' group received the drugs from the Guanajuato region of Mexico, where it was then fed through hubs in the United States like Houston, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Once arriving in Chester County, the drugs were then sold in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and the surrounding areas.
Lemus has been charged with 600 counts, mainly conspiracy, possession, and distribution. His bail is set at $1 million.
An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.