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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Indictment Charges 15 Members of a Los Angeles Drug Trafficking Ring that Distributed Heroin, Methamphetamine and Cocaine

          LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement this morning arrested 11 defendants charged in a federal grand jury indictment alleging they participated in a long-running drug trafficking operation that distributed kilograms of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine from multiple locations in Los Angeles County, including a storefront in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles.

          The 20-count indictment charges a total of 15 defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and alleges a series of acts in furtherance of the conspiracy between December 2015 and December 2019.

          Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately eight kilograms of cocaine, five kilograms of heroin, 10 kilograms of methamphetamine, 10 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and more than $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds.

          The 11 defendants arrested today are expected to make their initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

          Those arrested today include Gabriel Ortega, a.k.a. “Nightowl,” 42, of Lynwood, alleged to be one of the organization’s ringleaders who allegedly directed narcotics distribution operations from his home in Lynwood and from a storefront he operated in Lincoln Heights. Ortega sold nearly one pound of methamphetamine for $2,800 on two separate occasions at his Lincoln Heights storefront between December 2015 and February 2016, the indictment alleges.

          Also arrested was Raul Sanchez, a.k.a. “Rawlo,” 39, of Alhambra, another of the organization’s alleged ringleaders, who is charged with being one of the ring’s primary distributors of narcotics. Specifically, on March 21, 2018, Sanchez allegedly coordinated the delivery of 4.9 kilograms (10.8 pounds) of cocaine, 3.9 kilograms (8.6 pounds) of heroin, and 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) of methamphetamine to a storage facility in Alhambra. He also allegedly possessed three unregistered “ghost guns,” one .45-caliber Glock pistol, and ammunition at the Alhambra location.

          In addition to the conspiracy charge, Ortega and Sanchez each face individual charges of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances. Sanchez, who previously was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of four separate drug possession charges, also has been charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

          If convicted on all counts, the defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison and mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in federal prison.

          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.

          The Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group 51 and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated this matter. HIDTA Group 51 is comprised of members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the LAPD.

          This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce K. Riordan of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.

Contact: 
Ciaran McEvoy Public Information Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) (213) 894-4465
Press Release Number: 
20-025
Updated February 12, 2020