SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned two indictments Thursday against a total of 17 defendants for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between April 2019 and June 2020, agents seized more than 140 kilograms of methamphetamine, more than 500 grams of heroin, and $130,000 in cash.
The first indictment charges 12 defendants with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine and more than 100 grams of heroin. In furtherance of this conspiracy, the indictment also charges several defendants with possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. As well, each defendant is charged with using a cellphone in furtherance of the conspiracy. Charged in this indictment are: Antonio Mendoza Ramos, 42, of Bakersfield; Leopoldo Gonzalez Jr., 30, of Modesto; Victor Manuel Velazquez, 34, of Ceres; Erasmo Zarate Solorzano, 42, of Sacramento; Estela Acevedo, 60, of Las Vegas; Carlos Cano Manzo, 49, of Mexico; Diana Cervantes, 26, of Ceres; Jose Genaro Vargas-Ramirez, 19, of Des Moines, Iowa; Alma Adriana Mora Madrigal, 49, of Ontario; Alejandro Mora Madrigal, 51, of El Monte; Fernando Cardenas, 47, of Compton; and Humberto Pimentel Caranza, 27, of Modesto.
The second indictment charges Juan Zamora Torres, 59, of Turlock; Julio Mendoza Madrigal, 29, of Modesto; Robert Lewis McCommas, 45, of Idaho; Dorian Willes, 43, of Idaho; and Heather Romoser, 42, of Idaho. Torres is separately charged with several counts of distributing methamphetamine and heroin. Torres and Madrigal are charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Madrigal, McCommas, Willes, and Romoser are charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. Each defendant is also charged with using a cellphone in furtherance of the conspiracy.
These cases are the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Highway Patrol, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, the Ceres Police Department, the Modesto Police Department, the Merced Police Department, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, the Los Angeles Impact, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, El Segundo High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area 48, the Los Angeles Inter-Agency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force, the Modesto Police Department, the Sacramento Area Intelligence Narcotics Team, the Tri-Area Drug Enforcement Narcotics Team, the Turlock Police Department, the Turlock Special Investigations Unit, the West Sacramento Police Department, the Woodland Police Department, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, and the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angela Scott and Michael W. Redding are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This prosecution is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. The Sacramento Strike Force is a co-located model that enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations. The specific mission of the Sacramento Strike Force is to identify, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) shipping narcotics, firearms, and money through the Eastern District of California, thereby reducing the flow of these criminal resources in California and the rest of the United States. The Sacramento Strike Force leads intelligence-driven investigations targeting the leadership and support elements of these DTOs and TCOs operating within the Eastern District of California, regardless of their geographic base of operations.