A purse theft led to meth, a dealer and a supplier with the ‘Mexican Mafia,’ FBI says

A Gulfport man has admitted distributing meth he obtained from a man he believes is associated with the Mexican Mafia.

The FBI Safe Streets Task Force in Pascagoula seized three pounds of meth from a shed at Steven Paul Salmon’s home on June 6 after an investigation of a purse theft.

Salmon, 56, later told agents that a Gulfport man he knew only as Hector had fronted him five pounds of meth.

Salmon faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine at his sentencing in federal court on April 25. He pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute meth.

The theft of a purse June 6 at the Ramada Inn on Tucker Road in St. Martin raised suspicions that led to the arrests of Salmon and Hector Serrano-Cruz, 41, also of Gulfport.

A local investigator went to the victim’s hotel room and reported finding 30 grams of crystal meth in a black bag in the bathroom.

A person staying in the hotel room identified Salmon as the supplier after an agent with the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team went to the scene, an FBI agent’s sworn statement says.

The hotel guest claimed to have bought four to eight ounces of meth a day from Salmon for 21 days. The person cooperated with the FBI and called Salmon and ordered more meth.

Salmon and his girlfriend went to the hotel and FBI and MET agents blocked in the vehicle and took both into custody.

Salmon admitted he had drugs in a black satchel. It contained seven ounces of meth. He also admitted he had more meth at home, and offered to take officers there.

Agents put him in the front passenger seat of his vehicle and three Task Force officers drove him to his house. Salmon used a key to unlock a padlock on his shed. He pulled out a tan satchel that contained three pounds of meth.

Salmon admitted he had been selling meth for a month.

He said a man he knew only as Hector is affiliated with Mexican Mafia activity on the Gulf Coast. The Mexican Mafia is a violent gang in the U.S. that operates inside and outside of prisons, according to the FBI.

Salmon set up a meeting with Cruz for June 12 at a Kangaroo Express gas station on U.S. 49 in Gulfport. Once there, Cruz told Salmon to get in his truck and they drove away. Agents had them under surveillance and pulled them over on Community Road.

Cruz described himself as the “middle man” for a meth supplier in California, a document says. He is being held for trial on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute meth.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews