Ninth Person Pleads Guilty in Treasure Valley Drug Trafficking Case
BOISE – Diego Gomez-Lara, 28, a Mexican national formerly living in Nampa, Idaho, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to using a communication device in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Sentencing is set for September 4, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.
According to the plea agreement, on January 12, 2011, Gomez-Lara used his personal phone to contact co-defendant Jose Ramon Escobedo-Gonzalez on his cell phone. The purpose of the call was to make arrangements for Escobedo-Gonzalez to distribute methamphetamine to Gomez-Lara for future distribution to others.
The charge of using a communication device in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by up to four years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.
Eight co-defendants have pled guilty to related charges; seven are scheduled to be sentenced later this summer:
- Jose Ramon Escobedo-Gonzalez pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Sentencing is set for July 11.
- Antony Alegria Zedeno pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for July 11.
- Lourdes Muro-Garcia pled guilty to money laundering. Sentencing is set for July 23.
- Juventino Lara-Plancarte pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for July 24.
- Ronald Garcia pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for July 24.
- Randi Leann Atkisson pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for August 6.
- Fabian Nunez-Garcia pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for August 20.
Co-defendant Jorge Luis Cardoza, a Mexican national, was sentenced on June 12 to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
A jury trial for two remaining co-defendants, Victor Chavez-Garcia and Benjamin Prieto, both of Nampa, is set for July 10, 2012, before Judge Lodge.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in the Treasure Valley. According to plea agreements, the conspiracy began in September 2009 and continued to mid-January 2011. The organization brought pounds of methamphetamine into Idaho from surroundings 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. The United States is seeking forfeiture.
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 Crime 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, 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.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.