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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 25, 2013

Mexican National Sentenced To 19 Years In Federal Prison For Drug Trafficking

Escobedo-Gonzalez is Final Defendant Sentenced in OCDETF Case

BOISE – Jose Ramon Escobedo-Gonzalez, 35, a Mexican national, was sentenced today in United States District Court to 168 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and 60 consecutive months for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge also ordered Escobedo-Gonzalez to serve five years of supervised release after his prison term and forfeit numerous firearms. He pleaded guilty to the charges on March 21, 2012.

According to the plea agreement, beginning in September 2009 and continuing until mid-January 2011, Escobedo-Gonzalez and his co-defendants conspired to distribute more than five pounds of methamphetamine in Canyon County, Idaho. According to trial testimony, the organization brought pounds of methamphetamine into Idaho from surrounding states and distributed it throughout the Treasure Valley. During the investigation, law enforcement officers seized five pounds of methamphetamine, marijuana, numerous firearms, vehicles, and more than $30,000 in currency. According to the plea agreement, Escobedo-Gonzalez knowingly gave and received various firearms in exchange for receiving and distributing methamphetamine. Escobedo-Gonzalez further admitted he knowingly possessed various firearms for protection while engaged in drug transactions in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Co-defendants sentenced earlier include Mexican nationals Jorge Luis Cardoza, Lourdes Muro-Garcia, Diego Gomez-Lara, Antony Alegria Zedeno, Juventino Lara-Plancarte, and Fabian Nunez-Garcia; and Victor Chavez-Garcia, Leann Atkisson, Ronald Garcia, and Benjamin Prieto, all of Nampa, Idaho. The co-defendants received a combined total of over 75 years in prison.

In a separate but related case, Ana Reyes a/k/a Ana Gonzales, 25, Yolanda Yvette Salazar, 48, both of Nampa, and Nereida Lopez a/k/a Nereida Munoz, 30, of Caldwell, pleaded guilty in January 2013, to using a communication facility in furtherance of a drug offense. According to the plea agreements, the defendants admitted to using a cellular phone to make arrangements with Escobedo-Gonzalez to supply them with methamphetamine. The defendants each face up to four years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to one year of supervised release. Sentencings are scheduled in April 2013.

“Appropriately, Mr. Escobedo-Gonzalez and his co-conspirators will spend lengthy terms in federal prison,” said Olson. “Methamphetamine trafficking and firearms are a dangerous combination for Idaho’s communities. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure that those who bring this horribly addictive drug into our state and those who further their criminal activity with firearms are identified, prosecuted and sent to prison.”

The Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) case, named “Operation Flamethrower,” is the result of a year-long, multi-agency investigation. Investigators and prosecutors from federal, state, and local agencies cooperated in the arrests and seizures. It included the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Nampa Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Canyon County Sheriff's Office, Canyon County SWAT team, Metro Violent Crimes Task Force, Idaho State Police, Caldwell Police Department, Ada County Sheriff's Office, Boise Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Canyon County Prosecutor's Office, District 3 Probation and Parole, and the United States Attorney's Office.

The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.