News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Bob Troester
August 22, 2006
405/553-8999

California Man Sentenced To Twenty Years For Money Laundering Role Laundering Role In Narcotics Trafficking


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - John C. Richter, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, announced that ERICK OROZCO (a/k/a/ “Trips”), 31, of Bell Garden, California, was sentenced today by United States District Judge David Russell to serve 240 months in prison for conspiracy to launder money based on his receipt of drug proceeds wire transferred to California from Oklahoma.

“Every citizen deserves to live free from the fear of gang-related crime and violence,” said John C. Richter, United States Attorney. “As shown in this case, many of these defendants moved to Oklahoma City and affiliated with local gang members to facilitate local drug trafficking. This office, and our federal, state and local partners, particularly the Oklahoma City Police Department, are committed to aggressively prosecute those gang members and their associates who breed crime, violence, and fear in our community.”

“DEA will not tolerate criminal gang members infiltrating our community in order to peddle their poison.” said James L. Capra, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “We will continue to aggressively pursue, investigate and bring to justice all members of these violent organizations. This investigation is a painful reminder of how vicious and ruthless the drug trade has become.”

“Today’s sentence demonstrates to the American public that IRS Criminal Investigation’s commitment goes far beyond investigating tax crimes,” said Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge for the North Texas and Oklahoma Field Offices. “Our Special Agents are called upon to use their financial skills and expertise to unravel criminal enterprises, such as in this case. IRS Criminal Investigation will aggressively pursue those that conduct illegal activities to ensure that criminals are held accountable.”

Orozco was charged along with 11 other co-defendants in a 79-count indictment alleging that from the spring of 2002 through the fall of 2003, the defendants conspired to operate a major drug trafficking enterprise to distribute crystal methamphetamine and cocaine. Eight other individuals were also separately charged as a result of the investigation. Two defendants are presently fugitives, one was acquitted at trial and charges against one were dismissed. Of the 16 convicted, six had direct ties to violent California street gangs and four had ties to the Mexican Mafia.

In 2001, defendants who were members of the Los Angeles based street gang known as the Compton Varrio Tortilla Flats moved to Oklahoma City and associated with members of a local street gang. The defendants arranged for members of the Compton Varrio Tortilla Flats gang to bring large quantities of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine to Oklahoma City for redistribution.

Cooperating defendants, witnesses and confidential informants all provided information that led to surveillance, arrests, search warrants, and the seizure of significant quantities of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine. Investigators were able to document the importation of additional quantities of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine into Oklahoma prior to the investigation. The organization was held accountable for a total of 42 lbs. of crystal methamphetamine, conservatively estimated to have a “street” value of over $3.8 Million and 5 ½ lbs. of cocaine, conservatively estimated to have a “street” value of over $515,000. IRS investigators documented Western Union wire transfers totaling over $244,000 in drug proceeds between Oklahoma City, California and Florida.

This was a particularly violent drug trafficking organization that used threats and violence to enforce its operation.

The following is a summary of those defendants convicted and the sentence each received:

Name Age/Hometown Sentence
Dennis Emerson Gonzalez (a/k/a “Boxer”)
Adrian Macias Castro (a/k/a “Vago”)
Rafael Loera Gamboa (a/k/a “Crook”)
Erick Orozco (a/k/a/ “Trips”)
Eduardo Verduzco
Kurt Brown
Jennifer Lujan
Gilbert Cooper Bateman III
Elizabeth Serrano (a/k/a “Liz”)
Bryan Hashimoto Friedman (a/k/a “Japo”)
Robby Dale White
Tressie Elizabeth Woodmansee
Travis Barrett Landsaw
Maria Elena Ginez (a/k/a “Mousey”)
Stevie D. Harjo
Rhonda Sheppard
33, Al Hambra, CA
29, Compton, CA
32, Laredo, TX
31, Bell Garden, CA
28, Compton, CA
32, OKC, OK
30, OKC, OK
32, OKC, OK
23, Long Beach, CA
30, Pasadena, CA
37, Blanchard, OK
27, Del City, OK
29, Del City, OK
21, OKC, OK
25, Del City, OK
44, Newcastle, OK
360 months
360 months
260 months
240 months
240 months
188 months
168 months
165 months
120 months
120 months
87 months
78 months
72 months
48 months
48 months
46 months

Two defendants remain as fugitives.

These cases are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Oklahoma City Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative Division, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary M. Smith and Leslie M. Maye.