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Press Release

Six Coachella Valley Men Charged in Federal Court in Task Force Operation Targeting Illegal Firearms and Drugs in Desert Hot Springs

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

          LOS ANGELES – Six Coachella Valley residents have been charged by federal prosecutors with drug trafficking offenses, and four of the men face additional counts for illegal possession of a firearm.

          Four of the men were arrested this morning as part of a joint operation involving both federal and local authorities. Two of the men are already in state custody on separate charges.

          In the first case, Julio Cesar Gomez, also known as “Spanky,” 31, of Indio, Angel Alejandro Carmona, aka “Lil Criminal,” 30, of Coachella, and Steven Andrew Gonzalez, aka “Cubs,” 32, of Indio, were charged in an indictment with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. In addition, Gomez was charged with being a felon in possession of an assault rifle with an obliterated serial number, and Carmona was charged with being a felon in possession of a .357-caliber handgun. Gomez and Carmona were arrested this morning, and Gonzalez is in state prison in Wasco, California.

          In the second case, Francisco Remigio Figueroa, aka “Toro,” 34, of Desert Hot Springs, was charged in an indictment with distributing methamphetamine and marijuana. Figueroa was also charged with possessing a 20-gauge shotgun and ammunition after being convicted of multiple state felonies. Figueroa is currently in jail in Riverside County.

          Mario Vincent Lopez, 49, of Desert Hot Springs, was charged in an indictment with possession of an unregistered 12-gauge shotgun and shotgun ammunition after being convicted of multiple state felonies as well as distributing methamphetamine. Lopez was arrested this morning.

          Finally, Donnie Darnel Dennis, 38, of Desert Hot Springs, was also arrested this morning pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with the distributing methamphetamine. The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint describes Dennis handing his daughter a handgun when using her as part of a drug deal.

          Five of the men face a statutory minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum of life imprisonment if convicted on the counts with which they have been charged. Figueroa faces a statutory minimum penalty of five years imprisonment and a statutory maximum penalty of 65 years if he were to be convicted on all counts.

          “Drug trafficking involving firearms continues to pose a tremendous danger to our communities,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Several of these men were undeterred by prior state convictions, so now they must face federal charges and lengthy prison sentences.”

          ATF Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden added, “ATF works with our law enforcement partners to keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons and pursues federal criminal charges against felons that repeatedly seek to possess firearms."

          At their court appearances this afternoon at the United States District Court in Riverside, Gomez, Lopez and Dennis were ordered detained pending trial. Carmona is scheduled for a court appearance tomorrow afternoon.

          An indictment or criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

          These cases were investigated by the Coachella Valley Gang Impact Team, which includes members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Updated May 7, 2018

Press Release Number: 16-136