EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KSDK) - The accused leader of a drug trafficking organization has pleaded guilty to one of three drug charges, according to U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Illinois Stephen Wigginton.
Jesus Orlando Mendez-Velasquez, 33, of Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine. He pleaded not guilty to two other charges of interstate racketeering and conspiracy to distribute and possess meth.
According to Wigginton, Mendez-Velasquez is one of nine people involved in a drug ring that imported cocaine from Mexico to Salt Lake City and eventually St. Louis. Members of the organization sold the drugs throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area, including southern Illinois.
Of the other nine people indicted, seven have pleaded guilty, one awaits trial and another is a fugitive.
Mendez-Velasquez will be sentenced on the single charge Jan. 13, 2014. He will start a trial on the other two counts Nov. 4.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years, a supervised release term of 10 year and a $10,000 fine.