United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Last Defendant in Tulare County Drug Ring Pleads Guilty
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Monday, September 24, 2012
Docket #: 1:08-cr-0435 AWI, 1:08-cr-0436 AWI, 1:08-cr-0134 AWI, 1:08-cr-0167 AWI, 1:09-cr-0164 AWI
FRESNO, Calif. — Michael Ramos, 25, of Terra Bella, pleaded guilty today to possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, signaling the end of an investigation into a large drug smuggling and distribution organization based in Terra Bella and Porterville, according to U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.
“This case is the product of a two-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation that resulted in five indictments and the conviction of 13 defendants.” Wagner said, “The multi-agency investigation led to the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization that did great harm to many people, as well as to the communities of Terra Bella and Porterville.”
According to court documents, Ramos obtained methamphetamine and cocaine from Adrian Negrete-Hernandez, 26, of Terra Bella, for distribution. Negrete-Hernandez pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. He forfeited two firearms and $43,311 that were seized from his residence. Ramos and Negrete-Hernandez are scheduled for sentencing on December 3, 2012 and January 28, 2013, respectively, before Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. Both Ramos and Negrete-Hernandez face a maximum prison sentence of life in prison. Their actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The following defendants were also convicted in federal court as a result of the investigation and received the following sentences: Rosario Omar Valencia-Arce, 34, of Sinaloa, Mexico (10 years in prison); Leovardo Zuniga Gomez, 44, of Canby, Ore. (nine years in prison); Juan Delgado-Montenegro, 46, of Porterville, Calif. (three years and 10 months in prison); Ismael Casas, 25, of Terra Bella, Calif. (three years and 10 months in prison); Alejandro Mejia, 22, of Bakersfield, (two years and six months in prison); Olegario Trujillo, 26, of Tulare, (one year and nine months in prison); Loreta Janet Martinez, 24, of Terra Bella, (one year and nine months in prison); Agueda Perez, 33, of Lindsay, (eight months in prison and ordered deported); Luis Cortez-Mendoza, 28, of Tulare, (six months in prison); Pedro Delgado-Montenegro, 32, of Porterville, (two months in prison and ordered deported); and Emeterio Angulo-Arechiga, 35, of Visalia, (two months in prison and ordered deported).
The OCDETF investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Southern Tri-County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force, Tulare and Kern County Sheriff’s Offices, and Bakersfield Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, Fresno Police Department, Tulare Police Department, and the Porterville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.