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Press Release

Federal Grand Jury Charges International Drug Smuggling Ring that Trafficked Kilograms of Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

          RIVERSIDE, California – A federal grand jury has charged 11 defendants on federal narcotics and money laundering charges stemming from a wiretap investigation into a drug trafficking ring that smuggled more than 107.8 kilograms (237.7 pounds) of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States and Canada.

          A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charged 11 defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. This case is part of a larger wiretap investigation that altogether has resulted in federal indictments charging a total of 18 defendants.

          According to the latest indictment, from May 2014 until October 2014, defendant Alvaro Maclovio Morales-Felix, a.k.a. “Pancho Panthera,” 42, of Mexico, arranged for kilogram quantities of narcotics from Mexico into the United States. Co-defendant Clovis Etzel Bravo-Silva, a.k.a. “Gordo,” “El Chavo de los 8s,” 37, of Nicaragua, then would coordinate the shipment and distribution of the narcotics via couriers from the United States into Canada. In one incident in October 2014, the defendants allegedly smuggled 24 kilograms of cocaine and heroin, stuffed in a spare tire, from Wilmington, California to Seattle and ultimately into Canada. In total, law enforcement seized 22.35 kilograms of heroin, 47.9 kilograms of cocaine, and 37.5 kilograms of methamphetamine.

          The indictment also alleges that Bravo-Silva and Morales-Felix used co-defendant Manuel Enrique Valdes-Prado, 42, of Mexico, who owned an event ticket reselling business, to launder proceeds from the narcotics distribution, bring the proceeds from Canada into the United States, and then send them out to Morales-Felix in Mexico. For example, on May 21, 2014, Valdes-Prado allegedly deposited $110,691 in Canadian dollars ($97,352 in U.S. dollars) – the proceeds of the narcotics sales – into a bank account in Seattle. He then withdrew $19,000 in cash from the account from a bank branch in Chula Vista, California, then wired $55,601 to a bank account in Mexico, the indictment alleges.

          An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

          This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

          This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tritia Yuen and Jerry C. Yang of the Riverside Branch Office.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)
(213) 894-4465

Updated May 17, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-096