A purported Sureños gang member in El Paso, Texas, who was taken into custody in August after attempting to flee from authorities, was sentenced on Thursday on drug charges.
Juan Manuel Estrada, 44, was sentenced to over eight years behind bars for selling, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance and was given a five-year prison term for committing a violent crime involving drugs or a machine gun, court records indicated.
The sentences will be completed concurrently. Estrada pleaded guilty to two counts in January as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, who dismissed several other drug and firearms charges.
In addition to his sentence, Estrada will also be required to serve five years of supervised release on each count after he completes his sentence, the El Paso Times reported.
The FBI’s El Paso unit started looking into Estrada after a confidential informant told agents that he was a meth supplier.
The source alleged that Estrada could provide one pound of meth.
Estrada also purportedly was a “shot-caller” in the Sureños gang and had recently given the “green light” for a hit on a man who had been arrested. The man owed Estrada a “quota,” which is a tax on drug distribution,
Estrada is also identified as a reputed Sureños gang member by the El Paso Police Gang Database. He also has several tattoos associated with the gang.
El Paso police initially arrested Estrada on July 12th on suspicion of assault on a family member. Police recovered several firearms and ammunition at a residence believed to be where Estrada was living. He was not allowed to own any firearms due to a prior felony.
FBI agents and the Police Department’s Gang Unit officers then conducted surveillance at Estrada’s residence on August 1st.
Estrada left the home and neglected to signal when he made a right turn. An officer tried to pull him over, but he tried to flee in his car.
He then crashed into another vehicle and fled on foot. A witness told police that Estrada threw a handgun as he ran.
Estrada was taken into custody a short distance later and had sustained a cut to one of his legs. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Agents discovered “a large quantity of meth in a black bag, which was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, and a small bag of suspected methamphetamine on the passenger side floor board.”
A pipe, a beer can, a butane lighter and a canister of butane were also discovered in the vehicle.
Two others were also in the vehicle. The woman told police that the meth belonged to Estrada and the second passenger, a juvenile, confessed to being a Sureños member.
A search warrant was executed on August 3rd for agents to search Estrada’s residence.
Authorities found a black bag with over 315.8 grams of meth, two small bags of meth, one bag of Ecstasy, one bag of white pills believed to be codeine with acetaminophen, and one sealed bag of marijuana.
Drug paraphernalia and a case of .40 rounds of ammunition also were discovered.
Court records revealed that the man pleaded guilty in 2009 to one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and injury to a child, elderly or disabled person with the intention to cause injury. He was sentenced to eight years of probation for each charge.