TULSA, OK – U.S. Attorney Trent Shores announced that more than 30 individuals have been named in two separate indictments for their roles in heroin trafficking operations in Oklahoma. The indictments were unsealed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies arrested 23 individuals in an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. At least 18 of the 30 defendants named in the indictments are individuals known to be unlawfully in the United States.
“Two major indictments targeting organized crime and drug trafficking were unsealed in federal court today. Operations ‘Royal Flush’ and ‘Town Clown’ involved the takedown of massive heroin trafficking organizations in Oklahoma. Early this morning, the DEA orchestrated the simultaneous execution of search and arrest warrants at 14 different sites in Oklahoma, arresting 23 individuals and seizing approximately 4 kilograms of heroin and $120,000 in U.S. currency,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “I commend the more than 200 law enforcement agents and officers who participated in today’s takedown and thank the DEA for their leadership throughout this investigation.”
“Today is another point in the win category for all Oklahomans who value safe and drug-free communities,” said Eduardo A. Chávez, Special Agent in Charge of DEA operations in Oklahoma. “These individuals who spent their days delivering heroin can now spend nights in jail while the men and women of DEA Tulsa and our Eastern Oklahoma law enforcement partners continue their efforts to keep heroin off our streets.”
In the first indictment, 25 members and co-conspirators of the Rivera-Serna Drug Trafficking Organization were charged for their alleged roles in a continuing criminal enterprise that allegedly distributed more than 1 kilogram of deadly heroin into Oklahoma communities and laundered the proceeds.
Eleven defendants were arrested during Operation Royal Flush and made initial appearances in U.S. District Court Tuesday. An additional six individuals were also arrested as part of the operation, who are not named in the indictment, and will be charged by Criminal Complaint.
According to the indictment, Juan Carlos Rivera-Serna and Felipe Rios-Galicia are charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in Count 1 of the indictment. The two men worked in concert with other individuals and acted as principal administrators, organizers, supervisors and leaders of the enterprise. In Count 2 of the indictment, all 25 defendants are charged with drug conspiracy for possessing with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Thirteen of the defendants are further charged with money laundering in Count 3 of the indictment. The conspirators allegedly laundered the proceeds from heroin sales in order to conceal and fund their illegal drug operation.
In a second indictment, seven other defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute heroin and other violations. Six of the 7 individuals were arrested by law enforcement as part of Operation Town Clown. According to the indictment, the seven individuals are charged with drug conspiracy, allegedly conspiring to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin. Several of the defendants are also charged with distribution of heroin; possession of heroin with intent to distribute; and use of a communication facility in committing, causing, and facilitating the commission of a drug trafficking felony.
The return of an indictment is a method of informing a defendant of alleged violations of federal law, which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome a defendant’s presumption of innocence.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Tulsa Police Department, Broken Arrow Police Department, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Miami Police Department, Sapulpa Police Department, Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Operations, Yukon Police Department, Moore Police Department, Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, El Reno Police Department, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma City Police Department, Duncan Police Department, District 18 Task Force, and from Arkansas, the Springdale Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office took part in the investigation and arrests today.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program. The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illicit drug supply.