From a young age he gathered the connections that led him to cross cars laden with cocaine and marijuana to Calexico until he was caught at age 20 and sent to prison in San Diego for a couple of years.
There, he met others who were involved in drug trafficking and thereby made the contacts he’d eventually use when he started selling drugs at 24.
“Blow is sold fast,” said “El Magallanes,” who noted there is a fair amount circulating right now.
Join the discussion and add your comments to this story! Scroll down or click here and tell us what you think.
“El Magallanes,” who requested anonymity in exchange for participating in this story, is but a bit player in the often violent, multi-billion-dollar industry of cocaine trafficking in North America that also streams through the Imperial Valley.
Imperial: a key drug corridor
Just five years ago, one of the largest U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigations in history, known as Operation Imperial Emperor, spotlighted Imperial County as a major trafficking corridor and led to the seizure of about $45.2 million, 27,229 pounds of marijuana, 9,512 pounds of cocaine, 705 pounds of methamphetamine, 227 pounds of ice, 11 pounds of heroin, roughly 100 weapons and 94 vehicles in various locations, according to the DEA.
Seizures continue at ports of entry, checkpoints, along highways and our neighbors’ homes. In March 2011, Imperial police uncovered 781 pounds of cocaine during a routine traffic stop near Rodeo Drive and Chisholm Trail.
And two months ago, the Imperial County Narcotics Task Force seized roughly 105 pounds of cocaine while serving a search warrant at an El Centro home in the 2300 block of Heil Avenue.
Reports such as these become routine to Valley residents over time, but they are not unnoticed by authorities.
An inviting area to traffickers
The Imperial Valley is considered one of the top-three cocaine-trafficking corridors in the United States year after year, DEA San Diego Division Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jennings said.
Moreover, Imperial County Narcotics Task Force Commander Mike Loyd said cocaine seizures have increased tenfold from November 2010 to now. More than 4,000 pounds of cocaine was seized by the task force over the last two years, and a significant seizure occurs about once a month.
With unpopulated desert, agricultural fields and its natural access to Mexico, as well as to major transportation hubs in the United States, the Valley is attractive to trafficking organizations like the Sinaloa cartel that mostly controls Mexicali.
By simply having less population compared to a city, “where virtually everybody scrutinizes what you do and you’re subject to be reported or caught by people seeing what you do,” Jennings said, drug traffickers can operate more freely here.
“This is a route they found where they feel they can accomplish their goals — get it to a distribution center like Los Angeles, Phoenix or Riverside and from there they can distribute it,” he said.
Also, the informal agreement among cartels to not openly fight in Mexicali keeps the drug trade-related violence lower than other border communities, and as such, also heightens the area’s appeal to drug traffickers, Jennings said.
It’s in drug traffickers’ best interest to keep violence low in order to maintain the lucrative drug trade because violence attracts law enforcement attention.
More so, there’s less law enforcement period.