Federal Drug Task Force Targets Southern California Ring that Distributed Fentanyl and Other Dangerous Narcotics Across U.S. | USAO-CDCA

            LOS ANGELES – Members of the Los Angeles Strike Pressure this morning arrested eight defendants named in a federal grand jury indictment that alleges a drug trafficking group working in Los Angeles and Riverside counties distributed massive portions of methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and different narcotics throughout america.

            The defendants arrested at present – and 9 others who’re nonetheless being sought by authorities – are charged in a 20-count indictment that outlines an 18-month investigation that led to a number of seizures of narcotics, firearms and roughly $1.5 million in drug proceeds.

            The indictment alleges that the drug ring was headed by Rigoberto Sanchez Martinez, 36, of Perris, who obtained wholesale portions of narcotics, oversaw their storage, and coordinated distribution of the medicine to places that included the states of Washington and New York. Martinez was one of many eight defendants arrested this morning.

            The primary main seizure within the investigation, in keeping with the indictment, was on Could 25, 2018, when authorities recovered roughly 54 kilograms of methamphetamine, almost a kilogram of cocaine, and greater than 25 kilograms of marijuana from a “stash home” close to Whittier Excessive Faculty that was maintained by defendants Rogelio Barajas, 39, who’s a fugitive, and Irene Equigua, 40, who was arrested this morning. A few of the narcotics seized by investigators have been saved in coolers that had been buried within the yard of the residence.

            On the identical day legislation enforcement seized the narcotics in Whittier, Martinez known as the operator of one other stash home and instructed him to take narcotics and drug proceeds and “wrap them and canopy them with objects akin to Vicks VapoRub, espresso, pepper, and powdered cleaning soap, dig a deep gap, and bury the medicine within the floor,” the indictment alleges.

            Throughout the next 12 months, investigators made a number of different seizures, together with simply over $240,000 in money and quite a few firearms seized from a drug courier getting back from a visit to Washington; $1,041,970 in money recovered from a residence in Lengthy Seashore; and $118,800 in money seized from a drug courier who had travelled from New York with the intent to buy 5 kilograms of cocaine from Martinez, the indictment states.

            Authorities made further seizures of narcotics that the indictment straight hyperlinks to Martinez. On Could 28, 2019, authorities seized 3.1 kilograms of methamphetamine, almost 21 kilograms of cocaine, almost 10 kilograms of fentanyl, and almost 9 kilograms of heroin from a storage facility in Fontana, the indictment states. And, on September 13, 2019, at one other stash home that Martinez had rented in Whitter, legislation enforcement seized greater than 13 kilograms of methamphetamine and roughly $31,000 in money.

            The eight defendants arrested at present are anticipated to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court docket in downtown Los Angeles.

            An indictment incorporates allegations {that a} defendant has dedicated a criminal offense. Each defendant is presumed harmless till and except confirmed responsible past an inexpensive doubt.

            The 17 defendants named within the indictment are charged in numerous counts within the indictment. Every defendant is charged in court docket one, which alleges a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute managed substances. That narcotics conspiracy cost carries a compulsory minimal sentence of 10 years in federal jail and potential sentence of life with out parole.

            This case is being investigated by the Los Angeles Strike Pressure, which was shaped in 2014 to focus on Mexican drug cartels that use the Los Angeles metropolitan area as a main hub for the distribution of narcotics throughout america. The objectives of the Strike Pressure are to focus on high-level narcotics traffickers, disrupt and dismantle the cartels’ narcotics trafficking and associated cash laundering actions, and arrest and prosecute main drug traffickers.

            Various businesses offered substantial help to the Strike Pressure, together with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, america Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Safety, Homeland Safety Investigations, america Postal Inspection Service, america Coast Guard Investigative Service, and IRS Legal Investigation. Native legislation enforcement businesses collaborating within the investigation included the Pasadena Police Division, the Whittier Police Division, the Torrance Police Division, the Fontana Police Division, the South Gate Police Division, the San Bernardino Police Division, the Downey Police Division, the Ontario Police Division, the Los Angeles Police Division, the Seal Seashore Police Division, the Irvine Police Division, the Bakersfield Police Division, the Orange County Sheriff’s Division, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Division, the California Freeway Patrol, the New York Police Division, the Spokane (Washington) Police Division, and the Oregon State Police.

            This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lindsay M. Bailey and Shawn Nelson of the Worldwide Narcotics, Cash Laundering, and Racketeering Part, which is headed by AUSA Nelson.

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