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Press Release

Merced County Man Pleads Guilty to Heroin Conspiracy

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

FRESNO, Calif. — Otoniel Cardenas-Torres, 33, of Delhi, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute heroin, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Cardenas received $13,500 from a confidential source for the delivery of 3 pounds of heroin to the confidential source by Cardenas’s brother. The heroin deal had been arranged by a Mexican source of drug supply, who orchestrated a string of heroin transactions through couriers, including co-defendants Robert Palacios-Garcia, 38, of Huntington Park; Daniel Quiroz, 41, of Los Angeles; and Juan Medina, 29, of Manteca.

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

Cardenas is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on Dec. 11, 2023. Cardenas faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years, 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.

Co-defendants Palacios-Garcia and Quiroz previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to seven years and three months in prison and three years and one month in prison, respectively. Juan Medina is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 2, 2023.

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

Updated August 21, 2023

Drug Trafficking