Twenty-Three Gang Members Charged in Crackdown on South Bay Heroin, Methamphetamine and Firearms Traffickers

//

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Matthew J. Sutton (619) 546-8941 and Adam Gordon (619) 546-6720

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – May 27, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Eleven federal indictments unsealed in San Diego today charge twenty-three documented gang members and associates with heroin, methamphetamine and firearms trafficking. The crackdown announced today is the latest in a series of efforts by the Department of Justice to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic and reduce the inevitable violent crime that accompanies widespread drug trafficking.

As of today at 1 p.m., 17 of the 23 defendants are either in federal or state custody. Twelve were arrested this week, including nine this morning; the rest were already in custody. Authorities are continuing to search for six defendants. Many of the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Berg at 2 p.m. today and tomorrow.


This yearlong investigation involved federal wiretaps, dozens of undercover drug and gun buys and extensive surveillance. Many of the defendants are documented members or associates of violent South Bay street gangs operating out of National City, San Ysidro, and elsewhere. Many of these gang have long-standing ties to the Mexican Mafia. In total, authorities seized 2.1 kilograms of methamphetamine, 160 grams of heroin, and nine firearms tied to these defendants during the investigation.

“Gangs, drugs, and illegal firearms are infesting many of our neighborhoods and creating a violent culture that is unsafe for residents,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman. “This prosecution underscores that coordinated criminal activity will be met with a coordinated and focused law enforcement response by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local level. We are committed to dismantling violent gangs and holding their members accountable for criminal conduct.”

“The FBI is proud to work alongside our local, state, and federal partners on the Violent Crimes Task Force to address the gang problem and rid our streets of the overflow of drugs and guns which continue to plague our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “Today’s enforcement action is another example of why the Task Force was established – to be a force multiplier and combine short term, street level enforcement activity with long term, sophisticated techniques to root out and prosecute the entire criminal enterprise.”

Breaking News:  Southwest Virginia Man Sentenced to 108 Months for Role in Pandemic Unemployment Fraud Scheme

“I would like to recognize the cooperation between all agencies who took part in this operation,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “These collaborative efforts continue to make our communities safe.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman praised the coordinated federal and state team effort in the culmination of this investigation. Agents and officers from the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sherriff’s Department, National City Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, San Diego County Probation and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office collaborated on this investigation. Attorneys from the Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations, Electronic Surveillance Unit, also provided critical assistance to the investigation. Grossman also praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J. Sutton and Adam Gordon for their excellent work on this case.

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.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J. Sutton and Adam Gordon.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1404-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Breaking News:  Laredo man admits to smuggling meth in fire extinguishers

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine. For firearms charges: Ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1405-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1).

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

DEFENDANT                                                                                Case Number: 21CR1406-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

DEFENDANT                                                                                Case Number: 21CR1407-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1408-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2);

Maximum Penalties: For firearms charges: 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1409-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

DEFENDANT                                                                                Case Number: 21CR1410-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2);

Maximum Penalties: For firearms charges: Ten years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1411-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

Breaking News:  Chicago Man Arraigned on Federal Carjacking and Firearm Charges

DEFENDANT                                                                                Case Number: 21CR1412-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2);

Maximum Penalties: For firearms charges: Ten years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1413-DMS

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

DEFENDANTS                                                                              Case Number: 21CR1414-DMS

*Fugitives

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substance, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Conspiracy to Import Heroin, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952, 960 and 963;

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2);

Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Importation of Heroin, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 and 960;

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine. For firearms charges: Ten years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Diego Police Department

San Diego Sheriff’s Department

Internal Revenue Service

Homeland Security Investigations

National City Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department

Federal Bureau of Prisons

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

San Diego County Probation

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

Victim Witness Assistance

Learn about victim notification and rights, witness information, and helpful resources.


 

Learn More

Project Safe Childhood

Project Safe Neighborhoods

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.