SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former active-duty Marine who “liked the fast life” will be slowing things down for the next 12 years following a lengthy prison sentence.
In federal court Friday, a judge handed down a 144-month jail cell stay to Roberto Salazar II, 26, for his role in a years-long drug importation and distribution conspiracy.
Salazar, who before his arrest was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, pleaded guilty in October 2022 to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and to importing fentanyl into the U.S. from Mexico, according to U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman’s office.
From heroin and methamphetamine to cocaine and fentanyl, officials say Salazar was involved in dozens of smuggling events.
According to his plea agreement, Salazar recruited, managed and paid multiple drug traffickers while he was on active duty. The attorney’s office said he also personally distributed controlled substances within the U.S.
Salazar and his co-conspirators used specific model cars with a unique engine compartment which they used to conceal and import drugs, according to court documents.
Salazar went as far as delivering these specific model cars to a business in Mexico, where they were loaded with drugs and driven back across the border by traffickers, records state.
Before his eventual arrest, the attorney’s office said Salazar was commissioning a Mexican songwriter to write a drug ballad about him known as a “narcocorrido.” Cell phone records show the former Marine wanted the lyrics to celebrate his role in drug trafficking and even include references to his military service.
“I wanted to study and became a soldier, but I liked the fast life better,” Salazar stated in a phone message.
Among his recruits were two former servicemembers who had recently been discharged from the Marine Corps, said the attorney’s office.
“Mr. Salazar betrayed his oath to the Marine Corps and posed a significant threat to our national security by participating in an illegal operation to smuggle fentanyl into the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Todd Battaglia of the NCIS Marine Corps West Field Office. “NCIS and our partners remain committed to fully investigating all allegations of criminality within the ranks that threaten military readiness and jeopardize the safety of our community members.”