OPERATION GATORBAIT DRUG DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO 360 MONTHS
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced today that JOSE RICARDO RAMIREZ, age 33, of Houston was sentenced today in federal court by Chief Judge Ralph E. Tyson. RAMIREZ was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and 60 months imprisonment for unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise, ordered to forfeit over $250,000, followed by a term of supervised release of five years, and a $200 special assessment.
RAMIREZ and his brother JOSE ANGEL RAMIREZ, supplied cocaine to Willie Jones who ran one of the largest cocaine distribution organizations prosecuted in the district. RAMIREZ previously pled guilty to conspiring with Willie Jones, Jr., Kenya Smith, Malchai L. Tillman, Dedrick Dionell Turner, Courtney Demon Clayton, Kimberly Shawn Smith, Reginald D. Allen, Dwayne T. Wicker, Troy A. Johnson, Jason Tyrone Patterson, Nick Martinez, Suzanna Marie Voelker, Jose Angel Ramirez, Mario Arteaga, and Roberto Truijillo to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and fifty grams or more of crack cocaine, and unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise. All of the defendants have been convicted.
Judge Tyson, in ordering such a lengthy sentence, referenced eight additional cocaine deliveries that the defendant had made to Baton Rouge and elsewhere, a “grow house” that the defendant renovated and utilized to grow marijuana, a stash house operated by the defendant in which the U.S. Marshals found 25 firearms, silencers, body armor, ammunition, cocaine, crack cocaine, other drugs and cash, and credible information concerning the defendant conspiring with his wife and brother to break out of jail, in addition to the eight kilograms of cocaine that the defendant admitted to transporting to Baton Rouge for distribution to Willie Jones.
These charges were a result of “Operation Gator Bait,” an extensive investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the Middle District of Louisiana. The OCDETF is a multi-agency task force formed to investigate and prosecute criminal groups and individuals who organize, direct, finance, or are otherwise engaged in high level drug trafficking and related financial crimes. The OCDETF is comprised of agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, and the U.S. Marshal's Service. Other participating members in this OCDETF investigation included the Louisiana Alcohol, Tobacco Control Board, the Louisiana State Police, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff=s Office, the Ascension Parish Sheriff=s Office, the Baton Rouge Police Department, and the Gonzales Police Department. This OCDETF investigation was coordinated by the United States Attorney's Office, with Deputy Criminal Chief Jennifer Kleinpeter serving as the OCDETF prosecutor.
United States Attorney Cazayoux remarked, “This case is an excellent example of the complicated multi-state drug trafficking investigations that the federal government is uniquely equipped to handle. The Baton Rouge DEA office and local law enforcement officials worked closely with the Houston DEA office to make certain that not only the local cocaine distributors, but also their sources in Houston, were identified and prosecuted in order to dismantle the entire drug trafficking organization. ”
This OCDETF operation successfully identified eleven local members of the drug trafficking organization and the five Houston residents who were supplying the cocaine to the Baton Rouge organization. The Houston residents were also prosecuted in this case.
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