Kern County Man Charged in Operation Red Reaper Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Methamphetamine
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California
Calif. — Ernesto Zibray, 34, of Delano, pleaded guilty today to distribution of over 500 grams of methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Zibray was charged as part of Operation Red Reaper, a multi-agency operation that resulted in three federal cases charging a total of 23 individuals. The months-long investigation uncovered evidence that the Nuestra Familia prison gang and its associates were responsible for large-scale trafficking of methamphetamine and other controlled substances, as well as various firearms offenses and other violent crimes in Kings and Tulare Counties.
According to court documents, on May 6, 2019, Zibray, who was on probation for another offense, distributed 2 pounds of methamphetamine to co-defendant, Tiffany Feller, in Delano. Moments later, investigators conducted a traffic stop on the car in which Feller was traveling, searched the car, and found the methamphetamine. Zibray was arrested in June 2019.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Kings County Gang Task Force, the California Department of Justice, the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the FBI, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin J. Gilio and Kimberly A. Sanchez are prosecuting the case.
Zibray is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba on May 22, 2023. Zebray faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a fine up to $10 million. 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 part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
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.
Updated February 13, 2023
Project Safe Neighborhoods