News and Press Releases

Feds Charge 17 Persons in Reno/Sparks Area with Possession & Distribution of Large Quantities of Heroin & Cocaine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2009

Reno, Nev. – The federal grand jury has charged 17 persons with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of large amounts of heroin and cocaine in the Reno area, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

The defendants are charged in three separate indictments returned by the grand jury on Wednesday, December 2, 2009. All but two of the defendants are believed to be Mexican nationals who are in the United States unlawfully.

One indictment charges Ismael Nunez-Garcia and four other defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possession of 100 grams or more of heroin and 200 grams or more of cocaine between about October 28 and November 20, 2009, and using a telephone to facilitate a controlled substance offense. These defendants were arrested on November 20, 2009, following the execution of search warrants at a residence in Reno and an apartment in Sparks, during which law enforcement authorities recovered almost three pounds of heroin, 13 ounces of cocaine, and approximately $45,000 in U.S. currency primarily bundled within a safe at one of the premises. The drugs were packaged in colored balloons or plastic wrap and some of the balloons were hidden inside empty deodorant containers. If convicted, these defendants face up to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $2,000,000.

A second indictment charges Adrian Castaneda and five other defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possession of 100 grams or more of heroin and a detectable amount of cocaine between about October 28 and November 20, 2009, and using a telephone to facilitate a controlled substance offense. Five of these defendants were arrested on November 19, 2009, following the execution of a search warrant at a residence in Sparks, during which law enforcement authorities recovered heroin packaged in colored balloons, a large amount of U.S. currency in bound stacks, a digital scale, and hundreds of empty balloons of the same type used to package the drugs. If convicted, these defendants face up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $2,000,000.

The third indictment charges Salvador Gonzalez-Palafox and five other defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possession of 100 grams or more of heroin and a detectable amount of cocaine between about October 28 and November 20, 2009, and using a telephone to facilitate a controlled substance offense. Four of these defendants were arrested on November 19, 2009, following the execution of a search warrant at a residence in Reno, during which law enforcement authorities recovered from a vehicle in the garage about one-half pound of heroin and two ounces of cocaine packaged in colored balloons. If convicted, the defendants face up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $2,000,000. Gonzalez-Palafox and two other defendants are also charged in this indictment with using a person under the age of 18 to distribute heroin and cocaine, which, if convicted, subjects these defendants to twice the maximum punishment, or 80 years in prison and a fine up to $4,000,000.

In addition to the drug charges, five of the defendants have also been charged separately with unlawful reentry by a deported, removed, or excluded alien. Those defendants are Ismael Nunez-Garcia, Jose Hernandez-Andrade, Miguel Rodriguez-Jimenez, Felipe Quintero-Ramos, and Salvador Gonzalez-Palafox If convicted, these defendants face a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000, which could run consecutive to any other sentence.

Ten defendants, Salvador Gonzalez-Palafox, Juan de la Rosa, Gregorio Delgadillo-Perez, Hugo Venadero-Avila, Efrain Cervantez-Cano, Carlos Andulo-Renteria, Ruben Rodriguez, Maximiliano Sanchez-Martinez, Jose Guadalupe Guzman-Cruz, and David Garcia-Moreno are scheduled for an arraignment and plea on Friday, December 4, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid, Jr. Five other defendants, Ismael Nunez-Garcia, Rosalva Avila, Felipe Quintero-Ramos, Miguel Rodriguez-Jimenez, and Erick Duran Pacheco are scheduled for an arraignment and plea on Monday, December 7, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid, Jr. Two other defendants are believed to be fugitives.

The cases are a product of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The investigation is being conducted by the DEA, assisted by the Northern Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) and its participating agencies, including the Washoe County Sheriff's Department, Reno Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Nevada Department of Public Safety, and the Washoe County District Attorney's Office. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided substantial assistance in the investigation and led efforts in the part of the investigation leading to the return of unlawful reentry indictments. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller.

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

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