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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Six Men Sentenced on Federal Drug Charges, Admitted Conspiring To Distribute Methamphetamine In Washington Area
- Ring Claimed Ties to Mexican Drug Cartel -

    WASHINGTON - Six men have been sentenced to significant prison terms for conspiring to sell large quantities of crystal methamphetamine in the Washington D.C. area, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced.

    The final sentencing took place June 22, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Alfonso Martinez-Cruz, 39, was sentenced to 81 months in prison on a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Martinez-Cruz pled guilty to the charge in October 2011.

    The five other defendants also have pled guilty and been sentenced on the conspiracy charge. They include: Alberto Garcia Calderon, 37, a leader of the ring; Alejandro Quintana Cardenas, 26; Sergio Garcia-Virelas, 26; Felipe Alvarado-Ponce, 37, and Jesus Bustos-Penaloza, 53. All of the defendants were sentenced by Senior Judge Thomas F. Hogan.

    Calderon was sentenced in February 2012 to a 16-year prison term. Cardenas was sentenced in March 2012 to 15 years of incarceration. Garcia-Virelas was sentenced in October 2011 to an 11-year prison term. Alvarado-Ponce was sentenced in October 2011 to a 64-month prison term.
Bustos-Penaloza also was sentenced in March 2012 to a seven-year prison term.

     All six defendants, who are from Mexico, were indicted in December 2010 following their arrests at various locations in the Atlanta, Ga. area and Winston-Salem, N.C. All six defendants agreed to forfeit a money judgment for the amount of the proceeds of their conspiracy. The Court issued orders for them to forfeit a combined total $3.15 million as part of their sentence.

     Authorities conducted numerous searches in Georgia and North Carolina on December 10 and December 11, 2010. They seized more than 206 pounds of methamphetamine, six pounds of marijuana, three firearms, and more than $35,000 in cash in these coordinated law enforcement activities. In addition, five pounds of methamphetamine, one kilogram of cocaine and about five pounds of marijuana were recovered in the weeks leading to the arrests.

     According to MPD estimates, the street values of the seized drugs included more than $13 million worth of methamphetamine, $118,000 of cocaine, and $49,500 of marijuana.

     The investigation developed evidence that the ring had or was claiming ties to “La Familia,” a Mexican drug cartel that operates in that country and the United States. According to the government’s evidence, the cartel is known to distribute large quantities of cocaine, marijuana and crystal methamphetamine. The defendants were working to create a distribution network and market for crystal methamphetamine in the Washington, D.C. area.

     One of the defendants - Calderon - admitted in his plea that he was the manager or supervisor of others in the ring. He and Cardenas were arrested last December in Winston-Salem. Martinez-Cruz, Garcia-Virelas, Alvarado-Ponce and Bustos-Penaloza were arrested in Atlanta.

     According to the government’s evidence, Calderon and others in his organization kept methamphetamine in a home that was being used as a laboratory in the Atlanta area. During a search of that home, authorities found at least 200 pounds of methamphetamine in various states, including crystal and liquid methamphetamine, along with two firearms. Another firearm was found in a search of an apartment in the Atlanta area. About six pounds of marijuana was recovered in a search of an apartment in Winston-Salem.

    The investigation was conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from Criminal Investigator Duncan Templeton of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition, Paralegals Catherine O’Neal, Kim Hall and Teesha Tobias and Legal Assistant Priscilla Hutson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided assistance in the case.

     The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karla-Dee Clark, Vincent Caputy and Nihar Mohanty, of the District of Columbia.

     The prosecution grew out of the efforts of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency team that conducts comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the nationwide program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

    In recent years, investigations by this task force have led to the arrests and indictments of dozens of people from drug organizations that operate in the Washington, D.C. area.

     Numerous agencies provided assistance during the investigation. In Georgia, they included the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Atlanta; DEA Task Force Officers from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office; Alpharetta, Ga. Police, Fire and HAZMAT teams; the Georgia State Patrol; the Sandy Springs Police Department; and HSI Task Force officers from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, and Marietta and Conyers police departments. In North Carolina, they include the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of License and Theft. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Georgia and the Middle District of North Carolina also assisted in the investigation and court hearings.





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