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DEA and Partners Arrest and Charge a Dozen Suspected Meth Traffickers

FEB 21 (SAN DIEGO) - Twelve suspected members of a methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking ring were arrested early Wednesday and today at the culmination of a yearlong investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Major Mexican Traffickers’ Strike Force.  All but two of the defendants appeared in federal court this afternoon for arraignment on drug conspiracy charges. These arrests are associated with the unsealing of a criminal complaint Wednesday charging 19 defendants with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and cocaine.  The investigation, known as “Operation Crystal Haven,” focused on a long-term distribution ring which was importing methamphetamine and cocaine from Tijuana- and Guadalajara-based cartels into San Diego County, where it was then distributed in areas of northern San Diego County and elsewhere.

“The conclusion of this investigation marks the end of a large scale methamphetamine transportation and distribution organization that has been operating in San Diego County,” says San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge William Sherman. “This organization was distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine in our cities, and making a huge profit. Throughout the course of the investigation, DEA and its law enforcement partners seized large quantities of methamphetamine and arrested 13 people who will not be selling their product on our streets.”

The task force is a multi-agency effort to focus on Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations with ties to the San Diego area. Its members include the DEA, FBI, IRS, and ICE, with assistance from other federal and local law enforcement agencies as well. Including the previous arrest of another defendant in the case, as of today, a total of 13 defendants are in custody, charged with distributing methamphetamine and cocaine.

“We are relentlessly pursuing major trafficking organizations that operate in our neighborhoods and imperil our children,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “It’s gratifying to wrap up a lengthy investigation like this one with many arrests and drug seizures, knowing the community is safer because of our efforts.”

N. Dawn Mertz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation for the Los Angeles Field Office made the following comment on Operation Crystal Haven, “All drug trafficking organizations are motivated by profit and greed. By working closely with our law enforcement partners and using our financial expertise, IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to unravel the illicit financial networks created and used to launder the money generated by these narcotics organizations.”

Daphne Hearn, Special Agent in Charge, San Diego Field Office, said: “Through the combined efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement, a significant methamphetamine criminal enterprise has been disrupted. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to make our communities a safer place.”

“ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to working together with our federal partners to combat dangerous drug trafficking that threatens public safety in our communities, “ said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security in San Diego. “ Our mutual goal is to dismantle these distribution networks that are at the core of illicit drug sales in the U.S. There is no better strategy to strengthen our law enforcement resources and achieve our goals than joint operations. ”

DEFENDANTS
Case Number: 13mj0608
JOSE ISIDRO RODRIGUEZ-LARA Age: 42 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
DAVID AGUILAR Age: 37 San Marcos, CA Arrested 2/20/13
ALMA JAIME Age: 38 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
MANUEL MARCIAL Age: 31 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
FELIPE GARCIA-GALLEGOS Age: 27 Vista, CA Arrested 2/21/13
GUADALUPE NATALIE PEREZ Age: 22 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
JOSE LUIS LOPEZ Age: 67 San Marcos, CA Arrested 2/20/13
ROSALIA LOURDES NIEVES Age: 30 Spring Valley, CA Arrested 2/20/13
ALICIA REYNA MARIN Age: 49 Oceanside, CA Arrested 2/20/13
LEONARDO GARCIA-GAYTAN Age: 26 San Marcos, CA In state custody
NANCY BLANCAS-PENA Age: 26 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
SYLVIA SANCHEZ-ZARATE Age: 47 Vista, CA Arrested 2/20/13
SYLVIA LARA Age: 29 Vista, CA Fugitive
JULIO CESAR RODRIGUEZ-ZARATE Age: 38 Vista, CA Fugitive
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ-MARANTES Age: 26 Panorama City, CA Arrested 2/20/13
JOSE JUAN MANCILLA-MONJE Age: 46 Vista, CA Fugitive
EDSON SOLIS-VALDOVINOS Age: 25 Vista, CA Fugitive
NATHAN KAHAKULANI YASSO Age: 68 Vista, CA Fugitive
HERNAN SEBASTIAN BERNAL Age: 26 Vista, CA Fugitive

Summary of Charges
Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846 - Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine
Maximum Penalties: Life in Custody; Minimum Custody: 10 years; Maximum Fine: $4 million

AGENCIES
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service
Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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