By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–Two Mexican mafia associates were sentenced in federal court to 180 months and 48 months in prison for their roles in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy that operated in San Diego jails.

According to court records, 41-year-old Marquella Marshall, a resident of Houston, Texas, who previously lived in San Diego, is an Eastside San Diego street gang member, and a “facilitator” and “secretary” for the Mexican mafia. In that role, she was tasked by high-ranking Mexican mafia members to communicate on their behalf, collect and launder money, handle drug transactions, and direct street operations on the mafia’s behalf.  

At Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns described Marshall as “a conduit” for the Mexican Mafia and further described the distribution conspiracy as “an assault on the integrity of the prison system.”

“Drug smuggling and use in prisons result in overdose, violence, and power struggles. These significant sentences are a strike against the prison drug culture which puts guards and staff at risk and exists in large part because of dangerous gangs like the Mexican mafia,” U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said.

The second defendant, 47-year-old Marsha Delacruz, of Lemon Grove, who also is an Eastside San Diego street gang member, worked at the direction of Marshall. As part of the conspiracy, Marshall, Delacruz, and others mailed methamphetamine to various locations, including jails and prisons in Southern California. Marshall and Delacruz disguised some of the narcotics-laden packages as legal mail to avoid detection by law enforcement and prison and jail officials.

Marshall, Delacruz, and several other mafia associates were apprehended after an investigation by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force – Gang Group. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Marshall could receive a maximum penalty is life in prison, with a mandatory minimum of ten years (Marshall only), and a $10 million fine.