Drug kingpin helped Mexican cartels prosper in Manatee County. He faces decades in jail

A man from Michoacán, Mexico, is facing decades in prison for his involvement in a drug smuggling scheme on behalf of multiple Mexican drug cartels, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.

Gabino Peralta-Saucedo, 43, also known as “The Friend” or “The Pony,” coordinated the smuggling of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States from Mexico for more than a decade.

More than 12,000 kilograms of the drug were sold in and around Manatee County on behalf of prominent drug cartels, including La Familia Michoacána and Los Caballeros Templarios.

Co-conspirators of Peralta-Saucedo were obstructed by law enforcement on multiple occasions attempting to transport drugs to Manatee County, according to plea deal documentation. Multiple shipments of cocaine were delivered to the Manatee County home of Peralta-Saucedo’s parents.

Peralta-Saucedo also coordinated with drug cartels to get illegal substances across the U.S. border, according to a press release.

In addition to cocaine, co-conspirators of Peralta-Saucedo possessed and distributed heroin in the Tampa Bay region.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program. The initiative targets major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those responsible for the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S.

Peralta-Saucedo was arrested in Mexico in 2016, according to multiple reports. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Attaché’s Office in Mexico City then aided with his extradition to the U.S.

Peralta-Saucedo pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and a quantity of heroin on Dec. 14, 2018.

On Friday, he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday to serve 24 years and four months in federal prison on the charges.

Ryan Ballogg covers arts, entertainment, dining, breaking and local news for the Bradenton Herald. He won first place for feature writing in the Florida Press Club’s 2018 Excellence in Journalism Competition. Ryan is a Florida native and graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
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