News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2009
Contact: Chuvalo J. Truesdell
PIO/AFD
Number: 404-893-7124

Thirteen Defendants Indicted for Cocaine Conspiracy
Nationwide Takedown Involves Thirteen Defendants in Middle Tennessee

OCT 27 -- Nashville, TN - October 22, 2009 - Edward M. Yarbrough, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, and Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division (AFD), announced that a federal grand jury in Nashville has indicted thirteen defendants in a case that is related to Project Coronado, a national takedown related to the La Familia cartel that took place on October 21, 2009. Project Coronado was the subject of a press conference by Attorney General Eric Holder earlier today.

“Mexican drug dealers have reeked havoc on American society far too long,” said U.S. Attorney Yarbrough. “This national enforcement action is a significant strike back at these offenders and the citizens of Middle Tennessee can be justly proud that their local and federal agents played a significant role in the case.”

The La Familia cartel is a violent drug trafficking cartel based in the state of Michoacan, in southwestern Mexico. According to court documents, La Familia controls drug manufacturing and distribution in and around Michoacan, including the importation of vast quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States. La Familia is philosophically opposed to the sale of methamphetamine to Mexicans, and instead supports its export to the United States for consumption by Americans. La Familia is a heavily armed cartel that has utilized violence to support its narcotics trafficking business including murders, kidnappings and assaults. According to one indictment unsealed in New York, associates of La Familia based in the United States have allegedly acquired military-grade weapons, including assault weapons and ammunition, and have arranged for them to be smuggled back into Mexico for use by La Familia. Individuals indicted in the cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana; conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States; money laundering; and other violations of federal law. Numerous defendants face forfeiture allegations as well.

On September 30, 2009, a grand jury in the Middle District of Tennessee charged the following individuals and two additional defendants whose names remain under seal, in a one-count superseding indictment, alleging a conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846:

Mauricio Orozco-Rios, 25, a/k/a Chapulin a/k/a Flaco a/k/a Guicho;
Francisco Jorge Sepulveda, 26, a/k/a George;
Martin Martinez, 40, a/k/a Martin Martinez-Alvez a/k/a Juve;
Hugo Sepulveda, 23;
Marcos Arriaza Rios 31;
Sergio Orozco-Rios 21;
Lourdes Liliana Rios, 24;
Mauricio Beltran Jaimes, 22, a/k/a Neto;
Mandrell Christmon, 31, a/k/a/ Nes;
Renso Noriega, 27, a/k/a Levi; and
Jubercio Rodriguez-Pena, 27, a/k/a Rene.

All of these defendants are in federal custody.

The superseding indictment was under seal until October 20, 2009. The defendants face penalties of a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years, with a maximum term of life, a fine of up to $4,000,000, and at least five years of supervised release.

As described more fully in an affidavit filed in support of a complaint against seven of the defendants filed on Friday, August 14, 2009, the basis for the charges against the defendants include thousands of telephone calls intercepted pursuant to several Title III court-authorized wire-taps, surveillance by DEA agents and other officers, and the seizure of nine kilogram-sized packages, containing cocaine, that were found in a hidden compartment of a vehicle driven by one of the defendants in the early morning hours of August 14, 2009.

In addition to seizing the nine packages of cocaine that morning, law enforcement officers also seized several firearms and ammunition, 3 bulletproof vests, and approximately forty pounds of marijuana from two residences in Nashville, in which several of the defendants lived.

Shortly after the arrests occurred in Nashville, on August 14, 2009, DEA agents searched a stash house in Atlanta, Georgia, which had been identified as a result of the Nashville investigation. The Atlanta agents found and seized 76 kilogram-sized packages of cocaine. Those 76 packages were wrapped in a manner consistent with the nine packages seized from the hidden compartment of the vehicle in Nashville earlier that day.

This case was investigated by the DEA, with the assistance of agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, the Franklin Police Department, the Lebanon Police Department, and the 19th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Brent A. Hannafan is representing the United States.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an allegation. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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