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Press Release

Bakersfield Resident Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy

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

FRESNO, Calif. — Jose Luis Zambrano, 40, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, from October 2016 to January 2017, Zambrano sold a pound of methamphetamine and nearly 12 ounces of heroin in four separate transactions involving a confidential source. A federal wiretap also revealed that Zambrano was the source of supply for Manuel Teodoro Aros, 49, of Santa Maria, from whom law enforcement seized another 2.5 pounds of methamphetamine in March 2017. In addition, the wiretap led to the seizure in June 2017 of another 4 ounces of heroin and nearly 6 pounds of methamphetamine intended for Zambrano.

Zambrano was brought to federal court pursuant to a writ following his conviction in May 2022 in Kern County Superior Court for solicitation to commit murder.

Aros previously pleaded guilty to his involvement in conspiring with Zambrano and was sentenced to 13 years and eight months in prison.

Zambrano is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on June 17, 2024. Zambrano faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison, and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting the case.

The case was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. For more information about OCDETF, please visit

Updated March 4, 2024

Drug Trafficking