News and Press Releases

Three Northern Virginia Men Convicted for Participating in Mexican-Based Cocaine Trafficking Ring

February 13, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Three individuals from Northern Virginia were convicted by a federal jury for their participation in a local cocaine trafficking ring that was based out of Mexico. To date, 55 individuals have been convicted as a result of this ongoing Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation.

Erasmo Alvarado-Ibarra, aka “Chiquilin,” 28, of Woodbridge, Va., was convicted of conspiring to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Jose Zuniga-Ruiz, aka “Tio Tony,” 40, of Woodbridge, Va., and Silvestre Castro-Sandoval, aka “Silver,” 36, of Stafford, Va., were both convicted of conspiring to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ava Cooper-Davis, Special Agent in Charge for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Washington Division; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the jury returned the verdict.

Convicted on Feb. 10, 2012, the three men are scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, 2012. Alvarado-Ibarra faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. Zuniga-Ruiz and Castro-Sandoval face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.

            Evidence at trial established that this organization received multi-kilogram shipments of cocaine each month from Mexico. The cocaine was first smuggled into the area by internal-body couriers and was subsequently distributed in Fairfax and Prince William Counties by a network of lieutenants, drug runners and mid-level cocaine dealers. The evidence showed that for a period of time, Alvarado-Ibarra acted as one of the local points of contact for couriers arriving from Mexico. The other two defendants, Zuniga-Ruiz and Castro-Sandoval, were mid-level dealers helping this network distribute the cocaine arriving in the area.  

This case is part of an OCDETF investigation dubbed “Operation Springfield Snow,” which began in November 2008 targeting Virginia-based cells of a cocaine drug trafficking organization based in Mexico.

This particular investigation was jointly led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Alexandria Police Department, Fairfax County Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, and U.S. Marshals. Special Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Nussbum and Sam Kaplan and Assistant United States Attorney Andy Peterson prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on


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