News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2006
Contact: Dan Simmons, DEA Public Information Officer
(619) 572-2755

DEA: Drug Organization Used Juveniles to Smuggle and Sell Meth

Vehicles seized during the investigation
Vehicles seized during the investigation

MAR 23 -- Federal Law Enforcement officials announced the indictment of 19 individuals charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and three of these individuals were also charged with carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Court documents also allege the defendants used multiple juveniles to sell or smuggle methamphetamine.

The indictment alleges that a group of individuals led by Jorge Arreola-Gomez distributed large amounts of methamphetamine in southern California and elsewhere. Among those charged with Arreola are two sisters, his wife, his mother, and two brothers-in-law. According to the indictment, the defendants used numerous couriers to transport drugs domestically and across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Approx. 75 lbs of methamphetamine seized on one operation during the investigation
Approx. 75 lbs of methamphetamine seized on one operation during the investigation

"I cannot overstate the destructive nature of methamphetamine. We will continue to be relentless in our efforts against drug dealers who are bringing this poison into our neighborhoods," said DEA Special Agent in Charge John S. Fernandes.

According to court documents, the investigation led to the seizure of over 140 pounds of methamphetamine, 20 pounds of pseudoephedrine (a nasal decongestant commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine), over $25,000 in currency, and one firearm. The complaint outlines numerous seizures that resulted from the investigation, including:

  • approximately 75 pounds of methamphetamine on September 15, 2005, from Salvador Becerra in Chula Vista, California;
  • a loaded firearm from Manuel Omar Garcia-Cervantes on October 27, 2005, (according to court documents, the investigation determined at that time of this seizure Garcia, at Arreola's request, was en route to threaten or kidnap the wife of a drug dealer who failed to pay his outstanding debt);
  • approximately 16 pounds of methamphetamine on December 10, 2005, from Teresa Osuna-Alcala at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry;
  • approximately 20 pounds of pseudoephedrine on December 20, 2005, from a juvenile (court documents allege the juvenile was transporting the cold medication to Mexico so it could be manufactured into methamphetamine, then smuggled back into the United States;
  • approximately 8 pounds of methamphetamine on February 12, 2006, from a juvenile at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry;
  • approximately 14 pounds of methamphetamine on February 16, 2006, from Nancy Alvarez at the San Ysidro Port of Entry; and
  • approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine on March 6, 2006, from Benedicta Arreola in Chula Vista, California.

United States Attorney Carol C. Lam said, " This case reflects the way methamphetamine is tied into so many threats to society -- precursor chemicals, the corruption of juveniles, and the connection between methamphetamine and firearms.

U.S. Attorney Lam stated that this investigation was supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force ("OCDETF"). The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country's battle against major drug trafficking.

DEFENDANTS

Jorge Arreola-Gomez Chula Vista, California
Counts 1 & 2
Jesus Alberto Bastidas Mexico  
Benedicta Arreola Chula Vista, California
Counts 1 & 2
Armando Ramirez Chula Vista, California  
Ana Maria Gomez-Sosa Chula Vista, California  
Manuel Omar Garcia-Cervantes San Diego, California
Counts 1 & 2
Eva Adriana Mendoza-Hernandez Chula Vista, California  
Juan Raul Perez-Zamorano San Diego, California  
Maria Arreola San Diego, California  
Maria Hilda Vaughn San Diego, California  
Teresa Osuna-Alcala San Diego, California  
Olegario Rodriguez Chula Vista, California  
Severiano Rodriguez-Quinones Chula Vista, California  
Nancy Alvarez Murietta, California  
Lorenzo Barbosa-Hernandez Mexico  
Victor Corona Chula Vista, California  
Hector Contreras San Diego, California  
Ruben Orozco La Habra, California  
Juan Carlos Robles-Gonzalez Imperial Beach, California  

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Number of Defendants: 19

Count 1: Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 841

Penalties: Mandatory minimum 10 years in prison, maximum of life in prison and $4 million fine

Count 2: Carrying a Firearm During and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of Title 18, Unites States Code, Section 924(c)

Penalties: Maximum of life in prison and $250,000 fine

PARTICIPATING AGENCIES

Drug Enforcement Administration
National City Police Department
Chula Vista Police Department
United States Marshals Service
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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