News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 22, 2012
Contact: Owen Putman
Number: 312-886-2597

Californian Convicted of Distributing Methamphetamine in Twin Cities 

MAR 22 - (Minneapolis, MN) – Jack Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and B. Todd Jones, United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, announced today that a federal jury found Erika Romero Montenegro, age 30, from Richmond, California guilty of conspiring to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in the Twin Cities.

“We are pleased with the guilty verdict that was returned today in a very significant case,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Jack Riley. “ Partnerships continue to be critical in the investigation of drug trafficking organizations and the crimes associated with them, and I will continue to be committed to these types of investigations. I am proud of the work done by the agents and officers that led to this conviction."

Following a five-day trial, which took place in federal court, in the District of Minnesota, the jury convicted Ms. Romero Montenegro on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine. Romero Montenegro was indicted, along with 21 co-defendants, on September 7, 2011. Eighteen of those co-defendants have pled guilty before United States District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis, while two remain at large.

According to the evidence presented at trial, between January of 2010 and September of 2011, the defendants conspired with each other and others to distribute methamphetamine. The drugs were delivered from California to Minnesota via passenger automobile. The drivers would then drive the proceeds from the drug sales back to California. The methamphetamine was temporarily stored in several locations, including residences until it could be delivered to distributors. The distributors were customers who were provided large amounts of methamphetamine, pursuant to a financial arrangement by which payment was made after the distributors were able to sell it to other customers.

On March 14, 2012, Todd Allen Mudgett, age 43, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Mudgett admitted that he joined the conspiracy in May of 2011, and was a methamphetamine distributor. In addition, he admitted that on August 8, 2011, he ordered one pound of methamphetamine and was subsequently stopped by the Minnesota State Patrol after obtaining the drug. Authorities recovered four wrapped packages of pure methamphetamine totaling 444.7 grams.

On March 9, 2012, Harold James Hurley, age 55, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Hurley admitted that he joined the conspiracy in June of 2011, and received methamphetamine for resale. On August 2, 2011, Hurley was stopped by the St. Paul Police Department on a traffic violation and officers seized four ounces of methamphetamine. In addition, Hurley admitted responsibility for more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On March 8, 2012, Orlando Valencia-Nunez, age 41, of Roseville, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Valencia-Nunez, also known as Jose Ramirez-Valdovinos, admitted that he joined the conspiracy in 2011, and was a methamphetamine supplier, who distributed at least 500 grams of methamphetamine. Also on March 8, Susana Barragan-Sanchez, age 21, of Bakersfield, California, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. In her plea agreement, Barragan-Sanchez admitted joining the conspiracy in March of 2011, and coordinating shipments of methamphetamine and drug proceeds. She also admitted assisting in the negotiations of prices and the collection of drug-related debts. In addition, Barragan-Sanchez admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On March 7, Javier Hernandez-Coria, age 24, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Hernandez-Coria admitted that he joined the conspiracy in March of 2011, and was a methamphetamine distributor. In addition, Hernandez-Coria admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On March 6, 2012, Juan Carlos Ruiz-Meza, age 28, no known address, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Ruiz-Meza admitted that he joined the conspiracy in 2011, and was a driver and distributor. He also admitted routinely transporting drugs to others who delivered them to customers. In addition, Ruiz-Meza admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On February 21, 2012, Adelaida Barragan-Sanchez, age 29, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In her plea agreement, Barragan-Sanchez admitted that she joined the conspiracy in March of 2011, and facilitated the methamphetamine distribution activities for the organization. In addition, Barragan-Sanchez admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine. Also on February 21, Jose Rafael Oceguara, age 28, of Spring Lake Park, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Oceguara admitted that he joined the conspiracy in January of 2010, and was a methamphetamine distributor. In addition, Oceguara admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On January 19, 2012, Miguel Angel Sanchez-Rodriguez, age 22, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Sanchez-Rodriguez, also known as Angel Gallardo, admitted that he joined the conspiracy in March of 2011, and distributed methamphetamine. He was also responsible for receiving shipments of drugs from California and sending money back to California. In addition, Sanchez-Rodriguez admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On January 5, 2012, Jesus Lopez-Vasquez, age 26, of Spring Lake Park, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Lopez-Vasquez admitted joining the conspiracy in May of 2011, and delivering methamphetamine. In addition, Lopez-Vasquez admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On December 12, 2011, Jose Juan Gallardo, age 24, no known address, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Gallardo admitted joining the conspiracy in August of 2011, and delivering methamphetamine. In addition, Gallardo admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine. Also on December 12, Jacob Dwight Olmstead, age 34, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Olmstead admitted that he joined the conspiracy in June of 2010, and distributed methamphetamine. In addition, Olmstead admitted being responsible for more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On December 1, 2011, Lawrence Joseph Martinez, age 61, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted that he joined the conspiracy in June of 2011, and distributed methamphetamine. In addition, Martinez admitted being responsible for more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On November 29, 2011, James Peter Jeanetta, age 58, of Little Canada, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Jeanetta admitted that he joined the conspiracy in May of 2011, and distributed methamphetamine. In addition, Jeanetta admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On November 15, 2011, Scott Wayne Doree, age 54, of Landfall, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Doree admitted that he joined the conspiracy in July of 2011, and distributed methamphetamine. In addition, Doree admitted being responsible for more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine. Also on November 15, Brian Robert Bibeau, age 38, no known address, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Bibeau admitted joining the conspiracy in January of 2010, and distributing methamphetamine. In addition, Bibeau admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

On November 14, 2011, Judy Lynn Redhorn, age 54, of St. Paul, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy. In her plea agreement, Redhorn admitted joining the conspiracy in May of 2011, and allowing the group to use her residence to conduct the drug transactions. She also admitted receiving a fee for each transaction. In addition, Redhorn admitted being responsible for more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine. Also on November 14, Duane Eugene Smith, age 53, of White Bear Lake, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. In his plea agreement, Smith admitted joining the conspiracy in February of 2011, and distributing methamphetamine. In addition, Smith admitted being responsible for more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine.

For their crimes, the defendants in this case face a potential maximum penalty of life in prison. Judge Davis will determine their sentences at future hearings.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Minnesota State Patrol, the St. Paul Police Department, the Northwest Metro Drug Task Force, the Ramsey County Sheriff Office’s Drug Task Force, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven L. Schleicher.

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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