Thirty-Pound Methamphetamine Drug Bust in Tulare County Results in Federal Conspiracy Charges Against Five Individuals
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against five individuals for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Alfonso Rios-Ayon, 43, of Pixley; Sergio Ortega-Maldonado, 45, a Mexican national; Daniel Rios, 32, of Riverside; Ceferino Arjona-Elston, 32, a Mexican National; and Ezequiel Perez-Martinez, 31, a Mexican national, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
According to court documents, on June 29, 2016, law enforcement agents conducted a controlled purchase of approximately 30 pounds of crystal methamphetamine at a ranch in Pixley where Rios-Ayon lived. In the course of the operation agents arrested the all of the defendants except Ortega-Maldonado. Law enforcement officers also executed a federal search warrant at the residence and seized approximately 30 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, three firearms, multiple magazines and ammunition and approximately $12,000 in United States currency.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, the Southern Tri-County Task Force of the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations, the Kern County Probation Department, and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Brian K. Delaney is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Rios-Ayon, Ortega-Maldonado, and Rios face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted, Arjona-Elston and Perez‑Martinez face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years and a $1 million fine. 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.