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News Release [printer friendly page]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Casey McEnry
Number: 415-436-7994
May 4, 2006

Nineteen Indicted in Methamphetamine & Cocaine Conspiracy
15 Arrested in Yesterday’s Operation - Seizures of Drugs with Estimated Value of $4.5 Million

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury indicted 19 individuals for conspiracy to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine, United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced. Fifteen of the individuals were arrested early Wednesday morning, May 3, 2006, in a raid conducted by over 300 federal and state law enforcement officers. Along with the arrest warrants, the agents also executed 21 federal search warrants in northern and southern California as well as Hawaii. The indictment was filed on May 2 and unsealed yesterday, and a search warrant affidavit on the case was unsealed today.

"Methamphetamine and cocaine destroy peoples’ lives, families, and communities," said U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan. "The Department of Justice has made the enforcement of methamphetamine offenses a priority, and yesterday’s operation is an example of our ongoing commitment to disrupting methamphetamine trafficking organizations."

Federal and local law enforcement agents uncovered an alleged methamphetamine distribution network operating primarily in San Mateo and San Francisco counties which distributed narcotics throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii.

The arrests and seizures culminate an over two-year long, intensive multi-agency and multi-district Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force ("OCDETF") investigation. The investigation was conducted jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, San Francisco Police Department, Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Antioch Police Department.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 3, 2006, hundreds of law enforcement agents executed 20 federal search warrants at locations in Redwood City, San Mateo, San Carlos, Daly City, San Francisco, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Newark, South San Francisco, Hayward, Livermore, Willits, and Azusa, California in search of evidence of the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.

"The FBI will continue to address serious criminal activity within our local communities through a focused use of its resources," FBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Ford stated. "The trail of violence that follows criminal enterprises often requires collaboration among our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. The arrests yesterday are an example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement works together in a united effort."

photo
50 kilos in speakers

According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed this morning, on December 2and December 8, 2005, law enforcement agents executed searches on three packages in route to Hawaii which resulted in the seizure of approximately 38 pounds of pure crystal methamphetamine concealed inside a number of sealed one-gallon food cans. On February 28, 2006, law enforcement searched a vehicle and seized approximately 50 kilograms of cocaine concealed inside two large speaker boxes.


16lbs of meth packaged

"Methamphetamine is one of the most destructive drugs we face. The higher the purity of the meth, the more dangerous and more deadly it is – by thwarting this organization, this investigation has diminished a significant community threat," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena.

"The San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force is extremely satisfied with the outcome of this investigation. The dismantling of this drug trafficking organization will not only have an impact in San Mateo County and the surrounding Bay Area, but all of the communities the illegal enterprise reached. The investigators who participated in this case should be commended for their tireless commitment in bringing the organization to justice," said Mark S. Wyss, Commander of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force.

photo
Approximately 1.4 million

In the course of this investigation in the past year, numerous searches have resulted in the seizure of:

Approximately 42 pounds of methamphetamine
Approximately 52 kilograms of cocaine
12 firearms, including three assault rifles
Over $1,400,000 in U.S. Currency
177 marijuana plants
5 vehicles, 1 Harley Davidson Motorcycle

The DEA estimates that the street value of the seized drugs alone to be over $4.5 million.

The following individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury:

Dennis Anin Damasen, 28, of Daly City, California
Linin Bin Suleiman, 30, of San Francisco, California
Rimoni Sailele, 26, of San Francisco, California
Stanley James Pryor, Jr., 36, of Pittsburg, California
Kasi Talea Pohahau, 34, of Redwood City, California
Cenon Rajongan Polintan, 32, of Waipahu, Hawaii
Shawn Curtis Sanchez, 32, of Pittsburg, California
Natali Medina Cisneros, 31, of Woodside, California
Sione Tuifua, 28, of Redwood City, California
Hiliaumeniueva Tokotaha, 24, of Honolulu, Hawaii
Rafael Ramirez, Jr., 36, of San Mateo, California
Jose Antonio Zarate Araiza, 36, of Sylmar, California
Jose Luis Ayala, 46, of Azusa, California
Marvin Castillo, 26, of Oakland, California
Humberto Jesus Barraza, 28, of San Mateo, California
Jason Allen Marx, 26, of San Carlos, California
Craig Hunter, 32, of Sacramento, California
Michael Angel Jimenez, 32, of Livermore, California
Luis Alexander Flores, 34, of San Francisco, California

The following individuals are wanted by authorities: Jose Ayala, Jose Araiza, Luis Flores and Stanley Pryor. The arrested individuals are being held in custody and will be appearing for detention hearings over the course of the next week. Yesterday, law enforcement agencies made 12 additional probable cause arrests on state charges such as outstanding felony warrants and state drug charges.

The maximum statutory penalties for the charges are as follows:

Title 21 U.S.C. § 846, Conspiracy — a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years, and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; a $4 million dollar fine, a minimum term of supervised release of five years and a penalty assessment of $100.00.

Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1), Possession with Intent to Distribute or Distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine or 5 kilograms or more of cocaine — a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years, and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; a $4 million dollar fine, a minimum term of supervised release of five years and a penalty assessment of $100.00.

Title 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), Possession with Intent to Distribute or Distribution of 5 grams or more of methamphetamine, 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, or 500grams or more of cocaine — a minimum mandatory term of five years imprisonment, and a maximum term of imprisonment of forty years, a $2 million dollar fine, a minimum term of supervised release of four years and a penalty assessment of$100.00.

Title 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), Possession with Intent to Distribute or Distribution of Cocaine — a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, a $1million dollar fine, a minimum term of supervised release of three years and a penalty assessment of $100.00.

Sentences can be higher for individuals with prior felony drug convictions. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and all defendants charged in the indictment must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

Stephen H. Jigger and Barbara Brennan Silano are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case in the Northern District of California.

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