Fifteen Mexican Drug Cartel Members Operating in Atlanta Sentenced to Federal Prison
"Operation Four Horsemen" Nets 567 Kilograms of Cocaine &
Over $23 Million in Drug Proceeds in the Atlanta Area
ATLANTA, GA - OLIVER MACIEL-MACEDO, 29, of Mexico, an Atlanta-based cell-head of a significant Mexican drug trafficking and money laundering cartel, was sentenced to prison today by United States District Judge Richard W. Story. MACEDO and his co-conspirators were targets of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation dubbed “Operation Four Horsemen” which resulted in the seizure of 567 kilograms of cocaine and over $23 million in laundered drug proceeds in the Atlanta area. Combined with drug and money seizures in Laredo, Texas, the investigation has resulted in the seizure of 973 kilograms of cocaine, 1,445 kilograms of marijuana, and over $31 million in drug proceeds.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “These defendants thought that they could use Atlanta as a base of operations for their drug trafficking and money laundering operation. But the DEA and other cooperating law enforcement agencies strategically followed the drugs and the money, picking off the criminals who were part of the scheme and the drugs and money that flowed from it. These law enforcement agencies are to be commended for their efforts in dismantling this organization and taking tens of millions of dollars worth of poisonous drugs and dirty drug money off our streets.”
Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “DEA wants to make it clear that the law enforcement community will not tolerate the drug trafficking activities of Mexican cartel operatives who have targeted Atlanta as a base of operations. These drug syndicates pose a clear and present danger to our communities. In this investigation, DEA and its law enforcement counterparts used every necessary tool to take away 1,247 pounds of cocaine and over $23 million in drug proceeds. The subsequent prosecution and sentencings would not have been possible without the spirited cooperation between our federal, state and local law enforcement colleagues and the U.S. Attorney's Office.”
MACIEL-MACEDO was sentenced to 16 years, 8 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.
The other defendants in the conspiracy have been sentenced as follows:
- ULISES GIOCOCHEA-SOLORIO, 41, of Alpharetta, Georgia, was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- EDUARDO ANTONIO MORENO-ROSALES, 27, of Mexico, was sentenced to 14 years and 7 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- ROBERTO CARLOS DE LOS SANTOS, 35, of Mexico, was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- JOSE ANTONIO AYVAR-SOBERANIS, 43, of Tulsa, OK, was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- JUAN ALBERTO GARCIA, 36, of Cordele, Georgia, was sentenced to 9 years and 4 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
- ALEJANDRO SANCHEZ-MORALES, 26, of Mexico, was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- JOSE EDENILSON-REYES, 39, of Katy, Texas, was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
- JOSE LOMBERA-MONJE, 34, of Mexico, was sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- OSMIN ZUMAYA-AZUARA, 39, of Penitas, Texas, was sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- EDUARDO JAVIER BERNAL, 33, of San Antonio, Texas, was sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
- ELEAZER HERNANDEZ-VALDEZ, 45, of Mexico, was sentenced to 5 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
- JOSE LUIS MORALES-SAMANO, 38, of Mexico, was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- ERIKA DELROSIO PALOMINO, 24, of Duluth, Georgia, was sentenced to 2 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.
- JIMMY JOHN SILVA, 32, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release.
According to United States Attorney Yates, and the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in July 2007, the DEA initiated an investigation which ultimately uncovered two Mexico-based drug trafficking cells operating in the Atlanta area. The investigation revealed that the cells operated in a similar fashion, receiving multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine which arrived in tractor trailers from Mexico. After the drug traffickers received their cocaine shipments, they shipped millions of dollars in United States currency back to Mexico by concealing the money in tractor trailers and other vehicles.
The seizures of U.S. currency include:
- On September 3, 2008, $1,040,120 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer operated by EDENILSON-REYES on I-20 in Carroll County. The traffic stop was conducted after EDENILSON-REYES picked up a suitcase containing the drug proceeds in an industrial area near I-285 and Hollowell Parkway. EDENILSON-REYES was convicted of money laundering after a week-long federal jury trial in February 2011.
- On December 3, 2008, $1,023,465 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer operated by BERNAL on I-20 in Carroll County. Prior to the traffic stop, intelligence gathered by DEA led agents to BERNAL’s tractor-trailer where he picked up a garbage bag containing the drug proceeds from MORENO-ROSALES.
- On December 7, 2008, $8,824,950 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a tractor-trailer operated by HERNANDEZ-VALDEZ on I-85 in Troup County.
- On January 22, 2009, $4,754,159 in U.S. currency was seized pursuant to a traffic stop of a vehicle operated by GARCIA on I-75 in Henry County. DEA agents saw MORENO-ROSALES turn over the drug proceeds to GARCIA at the Mall of Georgia.
- On July 7, 2009, agents seized $51,400 in U.S. currency during the execution of a search warrant on a single-family residence located at 2971 Hollow Mill Lane in Buford. MORENO-ROSALES was using this address as a “stash house” for drugs and money.
- On August 4, 2009, agents seized $5,241,180 in U.S. currency which was concealed inside of a bus parked outside of a hotel on Paces Ferry Road in the Vinings area. MACIEL-MACEDO had dropped off the drug proceeds for ZUMAYA-AZUARA to transport back to Texas and eventually Mexico.
- On August 4, 2009, agents seized $179,978 in U.S. currency during the execution of a search warrant on a single-family residence located at 1290 Beeblossom Trail in Lawrenceville. SANCHEZ-MORALES stayed at this “stash house” where drugs and money were concealed for the organization.
The seizures of cocaine include:
- On March 28, 2008, 5 kilograms of cocaine were seized during a traffic stop of a vehicle near the I-85/I-285 interchange in Gwinnett County. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing federal investigation, the two occupants of the vehicle were prosecuted in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
- On August 25, 2008, 79 kilograms of cocaine were seized during the traffic stop of a vehicle on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. The driver was also prosecuted in Gwinnett County Superior Court.
- On June 17, 2009, 80 kilograms of cocaine were seized after a traffic stop of a vehicle on I-285, just north of I-20, in Fulton County. The driver, SANTOS, had just picked up the cocaine from an unidentified individual in a Kroger parking lot off of Cascade Road. After stopping for the police on I-285, SANTOS immediately fled into the woods and was ultimately apprehended in Tulsa, Oklahoma three weeks later. SANTOS also worked with AYVAR-SOBERANIS to launder millions of drug proceeds for the organization.
- The evidence showed that the co-conspirators used a number of methods and vehicles in coordinated efforts to transport drugs and money. On July 4, 2009, intelligence gathered by DEA revealed that ALEJANDRO ACOSTA SOBERANIS, another Atlanta-based cell-head (who is currently undergoing proceedings relating to his competency to stand trial), had received approximately 103 kilograms of cocaine from a Mexico-based source of supply. Several days later, on July 7, 2009, at approximately 3:00 a.m., MORENO-ROSALES and LOMBERA-MONJE were stopped by the Georgia State Patrol on I-85 while attempting to transport a portion of the cocaine to North Carolina at ACOSTA SOBERANIS’ direction. MORENO-ROSALES was operating an Infiniti vehicle and LOMBERA-MONJE was following MORENO-ROSALES in a Nissan Altima. A search of the Infiniti revealed 21 kilograms of cocaine concealed in hidden compartments within the vehicle. A few hours later, agents executed a federal search warrant on the residence located at 2971 Hollow Mill Lane, which uncovered 77 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk of a vehicle parked in the attached garage. Both MORENO-ROSALES and LOMBERA-MONJE were observed departing this residence prior to their arrests. SOBERANIS was arrested at his home pursuant to a federal arrest warrant on the same evening. In the year prior to this incident, PALOMINO had assisted the organization by acting as a Spanish/English interpreter between SOBERANIS and English speaking drug customers.
- On August 4, 2009, agents followed MACIEL-MACEDO to a bus which was parked behind a La Quinta Inn on Paces Ferry Road near I-285. At that time, agents observed MACIEL-MACEDO and ZUMAYA-AZUARA transfer multiple kilograms of suspected cocaine from the bus to MACIEL-MACEDO’s vehicle. In addition, MACIEL-MACEDO and ZUMAYA-AZUARA were observed transferring bags of suspected drug proceeds from MACIEL-MACEDO’s vehicle to the bus. Agents followed MACIEL-MACEDO to a residence located at 1290 Beeblossom Trail in Lawrenceville, and thereafter to another single family residence located at 1515 Northridge Road in Atlanta. MACIEL-MACEDO, and his passenger, MORALES-SAMANO, were arrested as they attempted to depart the Northridge residence. A few hours later, agents executed federal search warrants on both of these residences, locating 130 kilograms of cocaine in the home on Beeblossum Trail and 20 kilograms of cocaine at the Northridge residence. SANCHEZ-MORALES was arrested inside of the Northridge residence. Shortly after executing these search warrants, agents executed a federal search warrant on the bus, where they found a concealed stash of $5,241,180 in cash. Later that day, agents arrested SILVA - who had previously assisted MACIEL-MACEDO in transporting drugs and drug proceeds.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site: www.justthinktwice.com.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Invaluable assistance in this case was provided by the Georgia State Patrol, the Lawrenceville Police Department, and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Herskowitz, Brock Brockington, and Jeffrey Viscomi prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan