"Operation Ice House" Defendant Sentenced to 210 Months
Las Vegas, Nev. - A man who was arrested in July 2004 as part of a federal, state and local drug enforcement effort dubbed Operation Ice House, was sentenced today to 210 months in federal prison, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
HERIBERTO BUENDIA, aka Rodolfo Garcia, aka Heriberto Fong, aka David, age 45, of Las Vegas, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt. BUENDIA was arrested on July 1, 2004, and charged in two separate conspiracies - one involving nine co-defendants who were indicted on June 30, 2004, and another involving four co-defendants who were indicted on July 21, 2004. BUENDIA pleaded guilty earlier this year in each case to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, and the cases were consolidated for the purposes of sentencing today.
Of the numerous defendants charged in Operation Ice House, BUENDIA is the first to be sentenced. The individuals were charged with federal drug trafficking and firearm charges ranging from conspiracy to distribute and possess methamphetamine and crack cocaine, maintaining drug-involved premises, and prohibited persons in possession of a firearm. Some were also arrested on immigration charges. Officers recovered a large quantity of methamphetamine and firearms during the Operation Ice House arrests and searches, which occurred at several residences and at the Salon de Mexico bar in North Las Vegas.
According to the facts to which BUENDIA admitted in the plea agreements, from May 15, 2004, to July 1, 2004, he and four co-defendants conspired to possess with the intent to distribute 15 kilograms (approximately 33 pounds) of methamphetamine.
Specifically, on July 1, 2004, BUENDIA was arrested in a local parking lot after he attempted to sell six pounds of methamphetamine to an undercover North Las Vegas Police Officer for $48,000 in U.S. currency. The methamphetamine was recovered from a van in the parking lot. Later that evening, police officers went to a "stash house" at 4321 Wickford in Las Vegas and recovered 21 kilograms of methamphetamine (the plea memorandum indicates the defendant did not know about the 21 kilograms of cocaine, however.)
BUENDIA also admitted that from September 22, 2003, to June 30, 2004, he conspired with nine other individuals/co-defendants to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine base, including to law enforcement officers working in an undercover capacity. BUENDIA admitted that he was responsible for the distribution of 2,082 grams (approximately 4 ½ pounds) of pure methamphetamine.
Besides BUENDIA, eight of the defendants in one conspiracy have entered into pleas of guilty and are awaiting sentencing, and the remaining defendant is awaiting trial. In the other conspiracy, besides BUENDIA, two defendants have entered into pleas of guilty and two are pending trial.
Law enforcement agencies participating in Operation Ice House are: (listed alphabetically):
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Henderson Police Department
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD)
- Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division
- North Las Vegas Police Department
- United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE)
The lead investigative agencies for Operation Ice House are the FBI, North Las Vegas Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and US ICE.
Operation Ice House is as a result of the coordinated effort of the Southern Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The Southern Nevada HIDTA became operational in 2001. It is comprised of some of the above-named agencies, and combines resources to combat drug-related crime. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ray Gattinella.