Two Indicted In Cocaine Conspiracy
A federal grand jury sitting in East St. Louis, has returned an indictment charging two
individuals with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With the Intent to Distribute Cocaine, the
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
Victor Raul Cruz-Gutierres, 30, of Berkley, Missouri, and Juan Miguel Mendez-Velasquez, a/k/a
“Canello,” a/k/a, Jesse Morales, 35, of Mexico, were named in an indictment which was made
public on July 20, 2012. If convicted, each faces a statutory minimum sentence of ten years to a
maximum of life in prison, at least five years of supervised release, a $10,000,000 fine, and a special
assessment of $100.
Cruz-Gutierres made his first appearance and was arraigned on July 20, 2012. He was ordered detained pending trial following a Detention Hearing on July 24, 2012. Mendez-Velasquez is in custody in Nebraska and will be transported to the Southern District of Illinois for trial.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is
presumed to be innocent of a charge and is entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must
prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Evidence in support of the indictment was obtained in an investigation which was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF initiative is designed to bring federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and resources together to identify, target and dismantle large national and international drug trafficking organizations. Participating agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), the St. Louis County (Missouri) Police Department, and the Nebraska State Patrol.
The case has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Randy G. Massey for prosecution.