News and Press Releases

14 Arrested in Task Force Operation Targeting Whittier-Based Drug Trafficking Organization and Mexican Suppliers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES – Federal and local authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants who are named in a federal indictment that alleges widespread drug trafficking activities by a Whittier-based organization and its Mexico-based suppliers of cocaine and methamphetamine. An additional five defendants named in the indictment are already in custody.

Those arrested this morning are among 44 defendants named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury last month. Wiretapped communications outlined in the indictment involved discussions of shipments as large as 90 kilograms of cocaine and 30 pounds of methamphetamine.

During the course of the investigation that led to this morning’s arrests, authorities made seizures totaling approximately 75 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million in cash. Just this morning, authorities seized more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine and a firearm.

“Hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine have been taken off the streets as a result of this collaborative investigation between the DEA and the Whittier Police Department,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles. “Today’s arrests are welcome news for Southern California residents who want dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine out of our neighborhoods.”

The indictment unsealed this morning alleges the defendants were involved in a long-running conspiracy involving the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine. Because of the quantities of drugs involved in this case, all 44 defendants named in the indictment face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison and they could receive life sentences. The indictment also charges various defendants in 12 substantive counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, many of which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life.

The indictment unsealed today is the third in a series that focuses on the Sendis family drug trafficking organization. During the course of the overall investigation, which started in 2006 and has now resulted in three indictments naming a total of 59 defendants, DEA agents have seized more than 225 pounds of high-purity methamphetamine, more than 400 kilograms of cocaine, and more than $4.6 million in cash.

The investigation in this case focused on the Whittier-based Sendis drug trafficking organization, as well as the organization’s Mexican suppliers. Two leaders of the Sendis organization – Nicholas and Jennifer Sendis – were arrested in 2008, during the first wave of arrests, and subsequently convicted. After the initial wave of arrests, other family members of the Sendis organization took over the drug trafficking operations. Siblings Rogelio Sendis, Salvador Sendis and Angelita Sendis took over the organization’s activities after their brother, Nicholas Sendis, was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison. Because the investigation that led to today’s arrests anticipated reuniting the three Sendises arrested today with their brother already in federal custody, the DEA dubbed its investigation “Operation Family Reunion.”

The second superseding indictment unsealed today also charges several Mexico-based methamphetamine suppliers, including Jose Felix-Barraza, who is currently a fugitive. The indictment alleges that Felix-Barraza supplied drugs to the Sendis organization, as well as other customers throughout the Southwest United States.

The defendants arrested this morning pursuant to the 14-count second superseding indictment are:

Rogelio Sendis, of Whittier, 31, who along with his brother allegedly coordinated the distribution of methamphetamine for the organization;

Salvador Sendis, of Whittier, 29, who is Rogelio’s brother;

Angelita Sendis, of Whittier, 26, sister of the Sendis brothers, who allegedly coordinated some of the organization’s business while Rogelio Sendis was out of town;

Harry Madera, of Downey, 26, who allegedly distributed narcotics and collected drug proceeds on behalf of the Sendis organization;

David Ortiz, of Whittier, 27, who allegedly distributed narcotics and collected drug proceeds on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Daniel Zavala, of Whittier, 35, who allegedly distributed narcotics and collected drug proceeds on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Jesus Magana, of Norwalk, 30, who allegedly distributed narcotics and collected drug proceeds on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Manuel Rivas, of Whittier, 31, who allegedly sold methamphetamine on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Paul Keesey, of Santa Ana, 42, who allegedly sold methamphetamine on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Richard Oliver, of Santa Ana, 47, who allegedly sold methamphetamine on behalf of the Sendis organization;

James Hermosillo, of Hacienda Heights, 34, who allegedly sold methamphetamine on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Antonio Sanchez, of Whittier, 38, who allegedly sold methamphetamine on behalf of the Sendis organization;

Martin Hernandez Jr., of Inglewood, 23, who allegedly transported Mexican methamphetamine from Phoenix to Los Angeles and then would transport drug proceeds back to Arizona;

Amalia Hernandez, of Inglewood, 58.

The defendants arrested this morning will be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Authorities continue to search for additional defendants named in the indictment.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (Southwest Border Group 4 out of the Los Angeles Field Division) and the Whittier Police Department. This morning’s arrests were made by DEA agents and Whittier Police Department officers, and deputies and officers with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Buena Park Police Department, the Inglewood Police Department, the Montebello Police Department, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Release No. 11-172

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