Mexican Drug Trafficker First To Plead Guilty In Multi-Drug Conspiracy Netting $1M
WILMINGTON, Del. - Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that Ariel Vergara, age 49, of Bear, Delaware, pled guilty yesterday in federal court to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. Vergara faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of forty years, a fine of $5 million, and four years of supervised release following his prison sentence. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on August 17, 2016, by the Honorable Sue L. Robinson of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.
Vergara’s plea is the first conviction resulting from a long-term Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Group 41 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (“HIDTA”) investigation known as “Operation Bear Trap.” The investigation involved the wiretap of five phones, seizures including more than $1,000,000, approximately 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, approximately one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, and nine firearms. At his change of plea hearing, Vergara admitting to obtaining drugs from Mexico so that he and his associates could sell the drugs in the City of Wilmington, the greater New Castle County area, and southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The investigation also revealed that Vergara sought to obtain drugs from other out of state sources in California.
According to charging documents, the investigation led to the Indictment of eight people in addition to Vergara:
• Leticia Beltran, age 32, of Wilmington, DE;
• Luis Bustos, age 35, of Wilmington, DE;
• Richard Cephas, age 51 of Wilmington, DE;
• Sergio Flores-Lopez, age 41, of Wilmington, DE;
• Jamal Maddox, age 31, of Wilmington, DE;
• Miguel Martinez, age 64 of Wilmington, DE;
• Juan Rosas-Guadarrama, age 24, of New Castle, DE; and
• Juan Carlos Segura-Lorzo, age 25, of Wilmington, DE;
U.S. Attorney Oberly stated, “This plea represents a significant achievement for law enforcement in Delaware. With the help of the DEA, HSI, and our HIDTA partners across the entire Delaware Valley, we were able to dismantle a significant group of drug traffickers with ties back to Mexico.”
“Today’s conviction sends a clear message that narcotics trafficking in Delaware will not be tolerated and the repercussions will be severe,” stated Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle. “As a result of this investigation, and efforts by both federal and local law enforcement the final chapter of this Narcotic Trafficking Organization is being written.”
“This guilty plea marks a great victory in our multi-agency effort against illegal narcotics trafficking in Delaware,” said Gregory C. Nevano, acting special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. “When we dismantle and cripple the organizations behind those drugs, we make an indelible impact on public safety in our communities.”
Chester County District Attorney Hogan stated, “Operation Bear Trap was a model of inter-agency cooperation to take on a large-scale drug dealing operation. Working separately, these law enforcement agencies are very good. But working as a team, we are unstoppable.”
DEA Group 41 is part of the New Castle County HIDTA, a collaborative effort established in January 2015 among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. This case would not have been possible without the substantial coordination and cooperation between DEA Group 41 and two other HIDTA agencies, the Chester County (Pennsylvania) District Attorney’s Office Drug Unit, and HSI Wilmington. Other agencies that provided assistance included: Newark Police Department, Kennett Square Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, Delaware State Police, New Castle County Police Department, Wilmington Police Department, Delaware Probation and Parole, Wilmington SWAT, and Delaware State Police SORT.
The charges in the Indictment are only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer K. Welsh and Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher L. de Barrena-Sarobe.