Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Ernesto Sanluis-Espinoza, one of three men arrested in an All Crimes Enforcement Team drug raid Aug. 31, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge during a hearing Monday and will be deported.
Fourteenth Judicial District Deputy District Attorney Amy Richards characterized Mexican citizen Sanluis-Espinoza as a minor player in the drug operation that netted about one pound of methamphetamine and about half a pound of cocaine at a Creekside Court apartment.
Richards said that since the three men were arrested, the District Attorney's Office has found, "different levels of involvement and culpability in connection with possession of the drugs that were found."
Because of his relatively minor role, the District Attorney's Office dropped the 11 original charges against Sanluis-Espinoza, adding one additional charge of unlawful possession of a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a felony that carries a typical penalty of 1 year to 18 months in jail and a possible fine of $1,000 to $100,000.
As a part of the agreement, Sanluis-Espinoza pleaded guilty to the last charge and was sentenced to one year in jail. The year in jail was then suspended as long as Sanluis-Espinoza leaves the United States, does not re-enter illegally and does not commit any other crimes.
Sanluis-Espinoza spent 63 days in jail before his hearing Monday.
District Judge Shelly Hill said she was skeptical that any of the fines or fees assessed as part of the plea agreement, including a drug surcharge of $750, would be recovered.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a hold placed on Sanluis-Espinoza, meaning that his immigration status was questioned and a hearing would be held to determine his status regardless of the outcome of the trial.
Attorney Randy Salky, who was appointed by the court to represent Sanluis-Espinoza, said his goal was to get Sanluis-Espinoza home to his family in Mexico.
"This is the fastest and quickest way to accomplish that," he said.
A preliminary hearing for Jorge Orduno-Acuno, also arrested with Sanluis-Espinoza, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 13. The third suspect, Alexander Ocho-Espinoza, will appear at an arraignment at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.