News and Press Releases

Six Charged in "Operation Gunslinger"

March 4, 2004

Reno, Nev. -  "Operation Gunslinger," a multi-agency investigation involving unlawful drug distribution in the Reno/Sparks area, has led to the arrests of six individuals and the seizure of almost 16 pounds of methamphetamine, and a federal Indictment, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

On March 3, 2004, the United States Grand Jury returned an Indictment against six individuals: FRANCISCO MEDINA-MEDINA (aka "PACO"), age 31, DAVID PALOMARES-GONZALEZ (aka "CORA"), age 24, AURORA AGUILAR-HURTADO, age 36, YESENDI VALDIVIA-SANCHEZ, age 26, MARIA ARRIAGA, age 25, and EDDIE ACOSTA, age 25, all of the Reno/Sparks area. All of the defendants are charged with one count of Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, a felony. The allegations involve 50 grams of actual (pure) methamphetamine or 500 grams of a mixture of methamphetamine, meaning that if the defendants are convicted, they are facing a 10-year to life term of imprisonment and a $4,000,000 fine. Nine other counts in the Indictment charge one or more of the defendants with Distribution of Methamphetamine and Possession With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. Those charges are also felonies and carry at least five-year mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. All of the defendants, except AGUILAR-HURTADO who was already in state custody on unrelated charges, were arrested on February 27, 2004, at MEDINA-MEDINA's residence at 1190 El Rancho, in Sparks, Nevada, following the execution of a search warrant there. Approximately 16 pounds of methamphetamine, $25,000 in cash, and three handguns were seized from the residence during the search.

Count 1 of the Indictment alleges that from approximately June 1, 2003, to February 27, 2004, the defendants conspired to possess with the intent to distribute and conspired to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine. Counts 2 through 10 of the Indictment allege that the following amounts of methamphetamine were distributed:

2 7/2/03 Palomares-Gonzalez, Aguilar-Hurtado 110.5 grams of a mixture/36.5 grams of actual
3 7/18/03 Palomares-Gonzalez, Aguilar-Hurtado 110.7 grams of a mixture/109.6 grams of actual
4 8/15/03 Palomares-Gonzalez, Aguilar-Hurtado 99.6 grams of a mixture/81.7 grams of actual
5 9/18/03 Aguilar-Hurtado 27.5 grams of a mixture/17.9 grams of actual
6 9/18/03 Palomares-Gonzalez, Aguilar-Hurtado, Medina-Medina 194.2 grams of a mixture/110.7 grams of actual
7 10/22/03 Palomares-Gonzalez 110.5 grams of a mixture/80.7 grams of actual
8 12/18/03 Palomares-Gonzalez 111.2 grams of a mixture/82.3 grams of actual
9 2/27/04 Medina-Medina, Palomares-Gonzalez 16 gross pounds of a mixture of meth
9 2/7/04 Medina-Medina, Palomares-Gonzalez, Valdivia-Sanchez, Arriaga, Acosta 141.9 grams of a mixture of meth.

Defendants MEDINA-MEDINA and VALDIVIA-SANCHEZ appeared in court on March 1, 2004, and were ordered detained pending trial; defendant ARRIAGA appeared in court on March 1, 2004, and was released on a $50,000 bond; defendants ACOSTA and PALOMARES-GONZALEZ appeared in court on March 2, 2004, and were detained pending hearings on Wednesday, March 3 and Friday, March 5, 2004, respectively; and defendant AGUILAR-HURTADO is in state custody and has not yet appeared in federal court.

The investigation was developed through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) initiative, a federal drug enforcement program that focuses attention and resources on the disruption and dismantling of major drug trafficking organizations. The program has been in existence since 1982 and operates under the guidance and oversight of the U.S. Attorney General. OCDETF has contributed to the successful prosecution and conviction of more than 44,000 members of criminal organizations and resulted in the seizure of cash and property assets totaling more than $3.0 billion.

Nevada agencies involved in the arrests, searches and seizures are: the Drug Enforcement Administration, and DEA Task Force Officers from the Reno Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, and Nevada Department of Public Safety. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Craig Denney.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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