Man Receives 102-Month Sentence for Part in Drug Trafficking Ring Tied to Mexican Cartel

By Trish Svoboda

A man has been sentenced to 102 months in prison for his involvement in a Kansas City-based drug trafficking ring linked to Mexico. Edwar Salazar-Belleda, 34, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine, according to a release.

The international drug trafficking operation, sourcing meth from Mexico, involved money laundering through wire payments to individuals in Mexico and California.

An undercover investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) from August 2019 to May 2021 revealed Salazar-Belleda as a broker and Romel Alvarado-Calderon as the head of the operation. Salazar-Belleda was arrested in April 2021 with a significant amount of meth, and other illegal items.

The investigation led to the seizure of over 150 kilograms of meth, 11 ounces of heroin, marijuana, and numerous firearms. Several co-conspirators pleaded guilty to drug-related charges, and additional defendants have pending cases.

The case was investigated by KBI and HSI, with prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle McFarlane, David Zabel, and Sheri Catania.

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