Inmate Used Little Debbie Snack Cakes To Smuggle Drugs

By Keri Blakinger 04/19/18

An inmate was caught trying to smuggle $9,000 worth of drugs using the sweet snack box. 

woman destroying chocolate cake with hands

An MS-13 gang member from Los Angeles admitted in court to trafficking thousands of dollars of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine stuffed in a box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls—all while he was already behind bars. 

Luis “Lagrima” Calderon pleaded guilty in federal court to drug conspiracy charges stemming from a drug-smuggling-by-mail plot hatched three years ago in a southern California prison, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) news release

At the time, the 32-year-old from Los Angeles was jailed in the Calipatria State Prison between August and November of 2015. From the inside, he used contraband cell phones to keep in touch with his fellow conspirators in the free world. 

Still, police managed to record a number of phone calls between Calderon and an MS-13 member in New Jersey. The two talked about their plans to move meth, heroin and coke throughout the Garden State, and ultimately settled on having a drug package sent to a business center in Edison, New Jersey. 

Just before the shipment arrived, Calderon told his New Jersey connection that he was sending four ounces of cocaine and four ounces of heroin, along with two or more ounces of crystal meth.

Altogether, he said, the drugs would cost $9,000—and the New Jersey co-conspirator was allowed to keep whatever profit he made after selling the narcotics.

He also told his buddy what names would appear on the package and what tracking number to check. 

On Nov. 4, 2015, feds intercepted the package and found 95.5 grams of heroin, 54.7 grams of cocaine, and 52.4 grams of meth hidden in the snack box. 

The Los Angeles man entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court following an indictment for conspiracy and intent to distribute the drugs.

He is now facing a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $10 million fine. His maximum sentence could be life in prison. 

Sentencing is slated for June 25. 

Calipatria State Prison officials, Plainfield Police Department, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, ICE’s Enforcement Removal Operations, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations all pitched in on the case. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.