Alleged big player in Utah drug trafficking charged

Alleged big player in Utah drug trafficking charged

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SALT LAKE CITY — Police say a man believed to be a big player in drug trafficking in Utah has been using a car repair business to distribute narcotics.

Samuel Soto-Campos, 35, was charged this week in 3rd District Court by the Utah Attorney General's Office with three counts of drug distribution, a second-degree felony.

The charges culminate a two-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Metro Narcotics Task Force that included phone taps, according to charging documents.

"Agents have learned from intercepted calls in September and October 2016 that Soto-Campos was distributing large amounts of heroin and cocaine in Utah," the charges state.

In May, agents were led to an auto shop at 1180 N. Beck St. where Soto-Campos "would not only buy, repair and sell cars, but that he was distributing large amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine out of the shop as well," according to court documents.

"Customers would call Soto-Campos and ask for the night [heroin] or day [cocaine] kind and Soto-Campos would instruct that customer to go to his shop and find a particular car among the dozens he had stored in his auto shop lot. Soto-Campos would then instruct the customer where in the vehicle he had hidden certain amounts of narcotics," the charges continue. "Soto-Campos would also do this sometimes with his sources of supply for narcotics, where he would instruct the sources of supply what vehicle to leave the narcotics in that they were bringing him."

Investigators also learned that Soto-Campos was receiving "large sums of narcotics" from Mexico via suppliers in Southern California, and would "send large sums of drug proceeds back to sources of supply in California," the charges state.

On June 18, investigators stopped one of Soto-Campos' associates and "located a manufactured hidden compartment inside the rear seat of the vehicle and located $64,000," the charges state. "Agents then intercepted many calls from Soto-Campos to this associate telling him that he needed to get the car back because he would be in trouble if he lost that money."

On Sept. 8, another associate of Soto-Campos was pulled over by law enforcement and found "approximately 5 kilos of cocaine and approximately 1 pound of heroin in the vehicle," according to court documents.

On Sept. 12, agents served several search warrants and found various amounts of heroin hidden in vehicles on the car lot, court records state.

Prosecutors asked a judge for a higher than normal bail for Soto-Campos, noting that he "has been operating an ongoing drug trafficking enterprise for multiple years," and is believed to be a flight risk because he's in the U.S. illegally.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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