Seventeen Indicted for Firearms and Drug Trafficking Following Multiagency Sweep in Fresno
FRESNO, Calif. — Three related indictments were returned today charging 17 Fresno residents with firearms and drug trafficking offenses, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
On July 19, 2016, after a yearlong investigation, law enforcement agents served over 20 search warrants in the Fresno area and arrested the majority of the defendants indicted today. During the searches, agents seized approximately $42,500 in cash.
According to the first indictment, between February 1, 2016, and July 21, 2016, Christopher Martinez Sr., 45; Randy Seja, 24; Felix Gago, 40; and Christopher Martinez Jr., 23, conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
In the second indictment, Gilberto Zarate, 34; Jorge Calestino Alvarez-Arias, 27; Marco Mosqueda, 27; Frances Reyna, 55; Gabriel Galvan, 27; Rafael Delatorre, 32; Jose Delatorre, 22; Alfonso Esparza, 38; and Gabriel Esparza, 37 were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and distribution of a methamphetamine. Zarate and Alfonso Esparza, and Gabriel Esparza are additionally charged with being felons in possession of firearms. According to the indictment, the conspiracy ran between April 1, 2015, and July 22, 2016.
The third indictment adds defendant Cecilio Alaniz, 26, and Christopher Valdez, 35, to an indictment that originally charged Jesse Mendoza, 36, and Roxana Dodier, 23. Today’s second superseding indictment charges the four defendants with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and distribution of and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Mendoza is additionally charged with dealing firearms without a license, possessing and selling stolen firearms, and distribution and possession with the intent to distribute hydrocodone and heroin.
These cases are the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) , the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Fresno Police Department, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Mult-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation- Division of Adult Parole, the Fresno County Probation, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Melanie L. Alsworth and Kimberly A. Sanchez are prosecuting the cases.
The cases were part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.
If convicted, the defendants face sentences ranging from four years to life in prison and fines of up to $10 million. 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.
Two other defendants have been charged in connection with this investigation. On December 3, 2015, Spencer Meindersee was indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He is awaiting trial. The charges are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On July 18, 2016, Mariano Polanco was sentenced to three years and five months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
This investigation is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an initiative that brings together federal, state and local law enforcement to combat gun and gang crime. At the core of PSN is increased federal prosecution to incapacitate chronic violent offenders as well as to communicate a credible deterrent threat to potential gun offenders.