Four Indicted in Tulare County-Based International Drugs and Firearms Trafficking Ring
FRESNO, Calif. —Four defendants who were Sureno gang members and associates have been indicted today by a federal grand jury in Fresno, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Jonathan Gallegos, 31, of Ivanhoe; Andres Perez, 19, of Visalia; Jesus Angulo, 33, of Woodlake; and Malachai Serrano, 31, of San Antonio, Texas, have been indicted for distributing methamphetamine (Gallegos and Perez), conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Gallegos, Perez, and Serrano), using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense (Gallegos, Perez, and Serrano), conspiring to use a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense (Gallegos, Perez, Serrano), and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine (Gallegos and Angulo).
A team of local, state, and federal law enforcement officers recently partnered in an investigation of the Tulare County Surenos. During the investigation, law enforcement discovered that Gallegos and Angulo were traveling to Southern California and into Mexico to obtain illegal drugs, including kilograms of cocaine. Gallegos and Perez were then shipping kilograms of illegal drugs from the local post office in Ivanhoe to residences associated with Serrano, in San Antonio. Serrano and his associates were then selling those illegal drugs in Texas and using some of the proceeds to purchase firearms. Serrano is a felon and cannot lawfully buy firearms himself. He was directing others in Texas to buy firearms for him. Serrano and his associates then shipped firearms back to Gallegos and Perez in California, as payment for the narcotics they had received. Gallegos planned to sell those firearms to his drug suppliers. Gallegos is also a felon who cannot lawfully possess firearms.
Over 8 kilograms of cocaine, several pounds of marijuana, and more than 20 firearms were seized.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office; the Tulare County Area Regencies Gun Enforcement Team; the Visalia Police Department; the California Department of Justice (Bureau of Investigations), the California Highway Patrol (Special Operations Unit), and the Tulare County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio and Antonio J. Pataca are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, all four defendants face a range of maximum sentences, including up to life in prison. Several of the defendants also face a range of mandatory minimum sentences of five to 10 years in prison. 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.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.