News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Donnelly
Number: 559-443-8102

Members Of Fresno Based Drug Gang Arrested
Weapons, Silencers, Improvised Explosive Device, Meth, U.S. Currency, and Classic Cars Seized
Group Allegedly Utilized Fear and Intimidation Tactics

APR 30 -- (FRESNO, Calif.) — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Ben Buford, and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Scott O’Briant, announced today the conclusion of a long-term investigation dubbed Operation Paper Plates. The investigation resulted in the arrest of 5 individuals for conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and the seizure of over 1 pound high purity crystal methamphetamine, 18 firearms to include one Uzi, 3 silencers, an improvised explosive device (IED), U.S. Currency and 7 vehicles, 4 of which are considered classic. Additionally, 30 individuals were arrested on a variety of state violations.

Operation Paper Plates began in 2006, by the DEA Fresno Resident Office and the Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force (FMTF), after receiving information that Edwan Dablan, 34, of Kingsburg, CA, was allegedly distributing methamphetamine in the Fresno area. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Edwan Dablan was the leader of a drug trafficking organization that primarily distributed crystal methamphetamine in Fresno County. Based on information gleaned from the investigation, agents believe that Dablan’s organization distributed between 20 and 30 pounds of methamphetamine per month. Additionally, Dablan has allegedly used force or the threatened use of force, or directed other members of his organization to utilize force, to collect debts or handle individuals deemed out of line.

“Utilizing fear and intimidation tactics on anyone can threaten the security of the public and this investigation represents another brick in the wall to building a safer community. Today’s arrests should have a substantial impact on drug and other violent activity in the Fresno area,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams.

“This successful operation reflects sustained, close cooperation among multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including DEA and the Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force. The US Attorney's office has been, and will continue to be, committed to supporting such collaborative efforts to target major drug trafficking organizations in the Central Valley,” stated U.S. Attorney Wagner.

The affidavit details Dablan’s structured hierarchy within his organization and identifies his trusted members as: Khamal Dablan (Edwan’s brother), 22, of Selma, Manuel Vasquez, 28, a Fresno bail bondsman who resides in Selma, Henry Fattah, 31, of Kingsburg, and Augustine Reyna, 29, of Selma.

During the course of the case, law enforcement seized two handguns and made several undercover purchases of high purity crystal methamphetamine.

The investigation culminated on April 30, 2010, when law enforcement agents and officers served multiple warrants in the greater Fresno area. All enforcement operations were conducted without incident. As a result of today’s searches, officers seized 16 firearms, 3 silencers, an IED, U.S. Currency and 7 vehicles described as:

  • 1961 Chevrolet Impala
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 1969 Chevrolet Fleetside Truck
  • 1972 Oldsmobile 442
  • 2006 Lexus
  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2008 Chevrolet Malibu

Agents arrested Edwan Dablan, Khamal Dablan, Manuel Vasquez, Henry Fattah, and Augustine Reyna, on a federal drug conspiracy charge. Additionally, 30 individuals were arrested on a variety of state violations.

This case is a product of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) effort. OCDETF is a focused interagency program investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case. This investigation was conducted by the DEA, FMTF, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, with significant assistance from the Fresno Police Department, Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), Selma Police Department, Kingsburg Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, all of the federal defendants face a mandatory minimum prison term of ten years and a maximum prison term of life and a fine of up to $4 million. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables and any applicable statutory sentencing factors. The federal defendants are scheduled for an initial appearance on Monday, May 3, 2010, in Fresno before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sandra M. Snyder.

The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

# # # #