Arrests Made for Trafficking Fentanyl and Hundreds of Pounds of Methamphetamine out of Bakersfield
FRESNO, Calif. — Eight people were arrested in Kern County today following a months-long investigation into a Bakersfield-based drug trafficking organization that attempted to smuggle hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and fentanyl, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. A ninth defendant is in custody in Chico, California.
The defendants are scheduled to make an initial appearance in Fresno before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on Monday, March 29, at 2:30 p.m.
Those charged in the federal criminal complaint unsealed today are: Omar Alberto Navarro, 38, of Arvin; David Delgado Gonzalez, 37, of Bakersfield; Amayrani Jared Arreguin, 24, of Bakersfield; Lizette Mendez, 31, of Delano; Mayra Guadalupe Galvan, 31, of Delano; Miguel Angel Martinez, 26, of Bakersfield; Randal Jason Newell, 41, of Bakersfield; Daniel Armendariz Mercado, 31, of Bakersfield, and James Scott Gordon, 47, of Chico.
According to court documents, Navarro oversaw the wide-ranging drug trafficking organization from Bakersfield. Mendez, Galvan, Newell, and others transported narcotics for the organization. Between September and December 2020, those drivers were intercepted by law enforcement who seized a total of more than 380 pounds of methamphetamine and more than eight pounds of fentanyl that were concealed in their vehicles. On Dec. 27, 2020, Martinez was stopped by law enforcement on Interstate 5 as he attempted to smuggle 18 pounds of methamphetamine from Bakersfield to Texas. Also in December 2020, Mercado and Gordon purchased large amounts of methamphetamine from other members of the drug trafficking organization with the intent to distribute the narcotics to customers.
“The success of this operation highlights the importance and necessity of law enforcement partnerships across the spectrum,” said Homeland Security Investigations NorCal Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “Of particular importance, the significant quantity of narcotics seized by this HSI Bakersfield-led investigation ensured that the narcotics would not enter the drug distribution supply chain and inevitably harm the public. We are proud to be part of the team making our communities safer.”
This case is the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bakersfield Police Department, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the Shafter Police Department, the Kern County Probation Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher D. Baker and Laura J. Berger are prosecuting the case.
If convicted of the charged offenses, each defendant faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison up to a maximum of life in prison, and a $10 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.