It was a good run while it lasted for 67-year-old Salvador Lemus. Known as “El Viejo (Spanish for “the old man),” he oversaw a $60 cocaine enterprise for the past two decades in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester County, PA, according to the DA. On Wednesday (March 9), the old man pleaded guilty to to 25 counts of possession with intent to deliver, one count of conspiracy, and one count of corrupt organizations.
El Viejo’s organization, which included family members, was supplied with product by the Mexican cartel known as La Familia Michoacana. For 20 years, they pumped yeo out of a house in East Marlbourogh Township, PA. While El Viejo migrated to Mexico during the winter months, his son and nephews (who served as lieutenants) ran the show. Memers of the organization were able to stay low by working regular day jobs. According to DA Tom Hogan, the boss ran a landscaping company out of Maryland. “These guys are going to be working in mushroom houses. They are going to be working in blue collar jobs. They are going to be working in auto repair shops. They are going to be working in landscaping jobs during the day,” said Hogan.
In May 2014, Hogan launched an investigation into El Viejo’s organization called “Operation Telaraña (Spanish for “spiderweb”)” As a result of a year of undercover work, informants and surveillance, El Viejo and 43 others (including his wife and son) were arrested in connection with the cocaine network. El Viejo was held on $1 million. Residents of the town were shocked to learn that a powerful drug cartel was operating right under their noses.
As for El Viejo’s plea deal, Philly.com reports:
The charges could carry a sentence of decades in prison, said Kevin Pierce, an assistant district attorney in the county’s drug unit.
Lemus’ lawyer, John Pavloff, said he was pleased with the agreement. At trial, Lemus would have faced about 160 counts of drug-delivery charges and several hundred related charges.
“The judge assured him the sentence he would impose would give him ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ ” Pavloff said Tuesday.