Two Indicted On Drug Trafficking Charges After Arrests In Stockton; Three Indicted For Growing Marijuana In Lassen National Forest
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned three indictments today for charges of trafficking cocaine and heroin and cultivating marijuana in a national forest, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
99 Kilograms (218 lbs) of Cocaine Seized
In the first indictment, Todd Andrew Ayster, 49, of Long Beach, was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to court documents, on August 31, 2014, Aster was arrested after a CHP officer conducted a traffic stop in Stockton. A strong odor of axle grease was coming from the vehicle, and the officer’s K9 alerted to narcotics at two locations on the exterior of the vehicle. A subsequent search of the vehicle and attached camper led to the recovery of 99 kilograms of cocaine. This case is the product of an investigation by the California Highway Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Heroin, Cocaine, and Firearms Seized
In the second indictment, Cedric Sewell, 46, of Hayward, was charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to court documents, on March 5, 2014, law enforcement officers searched Sewell’s residence in Stockton and seized over five kilograms of heroin, 500 grams of cocaine, several firearms (including an AR-15 assault rifle), approximately $67,000 in cash, a money counter, and a cache of ammunition. This case is the product of an investigation by the Alameda County Narcotics Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Two Large Marijuana Cultivation Sites Eradicated from Lassen Forest
In the third indictment, Tiburcio Olmos Munoz, Adalid Rosales Lopez, and Venustiano Gonzalez-Jauregui, were charged with conspiracy to cultivate marijuana plants in the Lassen National Forest. According to court documents, on August 25, 2014, law enforcement agents served a search warrant at a large cultivation site in the Lassen National Forest. Gonzalez-Jauregui was there, and 6,769 marijuana plants were eradicated from the site. That same day, agents discovered a nearby site but due to exposure to highly toxic pesticides used in the first grow site, were unable to explore the second site that day. On September 4, 2014, law enforcement agents returned to the second site and arrested Munoz and Lopez. This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
If convicted, Ayster, Munoz, Lopez and Gonzalez-Jauregui face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted, Sewell faces maximum sentences of life in prison and fines up to $20 million for the drug possession charges and a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for being a felon in possession of a firearm. 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.
Assistant United States Attorney Olusere Olowoyeye is prosecuting all three cases. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.