Sixty Defendants Charged in Nationwide Takedown of Sinaloa Cartel Methamphetamine Network | USAO-SDCA

For more information contact:

Assistant U. S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton (619) 546-8941, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Bredariol (619) 546-8419, and Assistant U. S. Attorney Amy B. Wang (619) 546-6968

Click HERE for the indictment
Click HERE for the search warrant

SAN DIEGO – An indictment was unsealed today in federal court charging 60 members of a San Diego-based international methamphetamine distribution network tied to the Sinaloa Cartel with drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms offenses.

During the last month, hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents and officers have arrested dozens of defendants and searched multiple locations throughout San Diego County and in five states. As of today, 44 of the 60 defendants are either in federal or state custody, and the search continues for 16 defendants. In addition to these arrests, law enforcement has seized more than 220 pounds of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs; 90 firearms; and more than $250,000 in cash. Law enforcement officials are also seeking the forfeit of residences, high-end vehicles, and bulk cash belonging to these defendants.

According to the indictment and other publicly filed documents, over the last several years, this complex San Diego-based network obtained thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine from the Sinaloa Cartel to smuggle across the international border concealed in hidden compartments in passenger cars and motorcycles. The defendants then used these cars and motorcycles, along with trains, commercial airlines, the U.S. Mail, and commercial delivery services like FedEx and UPS to distribute that methamphetamine to dozens of sub-distributors located throughout San Diego County, the United States, and the world, including Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Kentucky, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

In return, tens of thousands of dollars in narcotics proceeds were returned to the network’s leaders via shipments of bulk cash, structured cash deposits into bank accounts, and money transfer systems like MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App. And to protect their illegal operations, the defendants allegedly possessed dozens of firearms and used encrypted communication providers to communicate with each other. This drug trafficking and money laundering continued unabated throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Despite their sophisticated efforts, law enforcement successfully penetrated this network with a variety of investigative techniques, including physical surveillance, obtaining phone records and financial documents, undercover agents, search warrants, as well as a six-month federal wiretap to intercept the communications and track the locations of the defendants.

Today we have dealt a serious blow to this San Diego-based international drug trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “The intersection of drug dealing and gun possession inevitably leads to violence in our communities. By dismantling this network, the Department of Justice reaffirms its unwavering commitment to reducing violent crime and building a San Diego where all our citizens are safe.”

“DEA is enhancing its efforts to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the most violent drug trafficking organizations across the country under Operation Crystal Shield,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “By dismantling this sophisticated drug trafficking network, DEA and our law enforcement partners have prevented significant quantities of methamphetamine and numerous firearms from making their way to the streets of San Diego and other neighborhoods throughout the United States.  Drug trafficking is a violent crime, that impacts the safety and security of our communities – and the drug and firearm seizures made in this investigation are testament to that.”

“The primary motivation of drug traffickers is greed,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge for IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office.  “IRS-CI will continue to work tirelessly alongside our partner agencies to stop the flow of narcotics and narcotics proceeds that are killing innocent Americans, and to ensure that crime doesn’t pay—that those individuals, like the 60 defendants indicted and arrested in this case, are brought to justice.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to preserving the integrity of the mail by ridding the mail of involvement in drug trafficking,” said US Postal Inspection Service Acting Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the Los Angeles Division. “This operation clearly shows that by combining our strengths and resources with all the involved agencies which include, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies we can disrupt their drug trafficking organizations to protect our communities.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman also praised federal, state, and local law enforcement for the coordinated team effort in the culmination of this investigation. This case was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task Force (NTF), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The NTF is a DEA-led task force comprised of federal and local law enforcement from the DEA, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, the Escondido Police Department, the United States Border Patrol, and the San Diego County Probation Office. Agents and officers from the United States Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, also provided vital assistance for the investigation. Attorneys from the Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations, Electronic Surveillance Unit, likewise provided critical work as part of the investigative team.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J. Sutton, Nicole Bredariol, and Amy B. Wang of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case, with assistance from Paralegal Specialists Kathleen Jordano and Leticia Adams.

 

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 21cr1559-H                           

(D1) Reyes Espinoza                                      Age: 35                                   San Ysidro, CA

(D2) David Villegas                                        Age: 49                                   San Diego, CA

(D3) John Bomenka                                        Age: 54                                   San Diego, CA

(D4) Dennis Jones                                          Age: 49                                   San Diego, CA

(D5) Darren Mosier                                        Age: 59                                   San Diego, CA

(D6) Frank Tucker                                          Age: 63                                   San Diego, CA

(D7) Charles Miller                                         Age: 52                                   San Diego, CA

*(D8) Carlos Espinoza                                    Age: 28                                   Tijuana, MX

(D9) Mario Espinoza                                      Age: 20                                   Tijuana, MX

(D10) Jaron Hillyer                                         Age: 30                                   San Diego, CA

(D11) Kristina Brown                                     Age: 32                                   San Diego, CA

(D12) Danny Miller                                        Age: 52                                   San Diego, CA

(D13) Shawn Morrill                                       Age: 49                                   San Diego, CA

*(D14) Hilleal Grant                                      Age: 51                                   San Diego, CA

*(D15) Lewis Rich                                         Age: 59                                   San Diego, CA

(D16) Cameron Graff                                     Age: 29                                   San Diego, CA

*(D17) Terry Haith                                         Age: 60                                   San Diego, CA

(D18) Tansy Steinhauer                                  Age: 51                                   San Diego, CA

*(D19) Jessica Pomeroy                                 Age: 30                                   San Diego, CA

*(D20) Shadow Segura                                   Age: 23                                   Houston, TX

(D21) Jasmine Lucas                                      Age: 50                                   San Diego, CA

(D22) Philip Abbas                                         Age: 42                                   San Diego, CA

*(D23) Peter Fuller                                         Age: 63                                   San Diego, CA

(D24) Eduardo Osuna                                     Age: 41                                   San Diego, CA

(D25) Frank Carrillo                                       Age: 45                                   San Diego, CA

(D26) Stephen Myrick                                    Age: 45                                   San Diego, CA

(D27) Gloria Sandoval                                   Age: 40                                   San Diego, CA

*(D28) Ashley Hilton                                     Age: 42                                   Houston, TX

(D29) Joseph Occhiogrosso                            Age: 44                                   Brooklyn, NY

(D30) Gary Beasley                                        Age: 39                                   San Diego, CA

*(D31) Arnulfo Rodriguez                             Age: 38                                   San Diego, CA

(D32) Alexandro Larios-Flores                       Age: 24                                   San Diego, CA

*(D33) Jose Vargas                                        Age: 31                                   San Diego, CA

(D34) Michael Nagle                                      Age: 50                                   San Diego, CA

*(D35) Raymond Sterling                               Age: 51                                   San Diego, CA

(D36) Terry Tyler                                           Age: 49                                   San Diego, CA

(D37) Victor Yamasaki                                   Age: 59                                   San Diego, CA

(D38) Chris Paschke                                       Age: 57                                   San Diego, CA

(D39) Charles Gerardi                                                Age: 57                                   Houston, TX

(D40) Christian Lopez-Villegas                      Age: 34                                   San Ysidro, CA

(D41) David Santa Maria                                Age: 49                                   San Diego, CA

(D42) Melvin Johnson                                    Age: 44                                   San Diego, CA

(D43) Daniel Babuata                                     Age: 34                                   San Diego, CA

*(D44) Garrett Steele                                     Age: 40                                   San Diego, CA

(D45) Vien Trinh                                            Age: 62                                   San Diego, CA

*(D46) Troy Prater                                         Age: 46                                   San Diego, CA

*(D47) Sharon Landhan                                 Age: 44                                   San Diego, CA

(D48) Gabriel Askay                                      Age: 44                                   San Diego, CA

(D49) Patrick Lane                                         Age: 57                                   San Diego, CA

(D50) Kevin Tobin                                          Age: 65                                   San Diego, CA

(D51) James Ellerbe                                        Age: 68                                   San Diego, CA

(D52) Hope Stoneking                                    Age: 35                                   San Diego, CA

(D53) Tasha Almanza                                     Age: 42                                   San Diego, CA

*(D54) Jason Ferguson                                   Age: 48                                   San Diego, CA

(D55) Kelle Ferguson                                     Age: 52                                   San Diego, CA

*(D56) Roger Desroche                                  Age: 74                                   San Diego, CA

(D57) Steven Brandt                                      Age: 57                                   San Diego, CA

(D58) Esteban Gastelum-Sanchez                  Age: 42                                   San Diego, CA

(D59) Tara Scroggins                                     Age: 45                                   San Diego, CA

(D60) Debbie Hill                                           Age: 59                                   San Diego, CA

 

*Fugitives

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

 

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846)

Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments (18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1) and (h))

Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C., § 841(a)(1))

Importation of Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C. §§ 952 and 960)

Felon in Possession of a Firearm (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)

 

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges, term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and a lifetime of supervised release. For money laundering charges, term of custody up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved, and three years of supervised release. For the firearms charges, term of custody up to 10 years imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine.

 

AGENCIES

 

Drug Enforcement Administration, Narcotics Task Force

Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation

United States Postal Inspection Service

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

San Diego Police Department

Escondido Police Department

United States Border Patrol

San Diego County Probation Office

United States Marshals Service

Homeland Security Investigations

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives

Federal Bureau of Prisons

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces

Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations, Electronic Surveillance Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan

Source link

Author: Editor
The website is owned by STL.News, LLC. However, the website is hosted, designed, and maintained by WebTech Group, a web host, and design agency based in St. Louis, Missouri. USDOJ.Today focuses on aggregating content from the US Attorney's Offices around the country. STL.News uses this content to publish national news at https://STL.News