Vallejo Man Convicted of Methamphetamine Trafficking and Illegal Firearms Possession
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After a six-day trial, a federal jury found Henry Benson, 42, of Vallejo, guilty on Thursday of conspiracy to distribute and manufacture methamphetamine-laced pills, four counts of distributing or possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine-laced pills, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, from January 2015 until his arrest in February 2019, Benson made and sold thousands of methamphetamine-laced pills. He made the pills using pill presses, which are machines that compress powders into pills of various shapes and sizes. Benson made pills to look like traditional Ecstasy pills—colorful, candy-like pills in the shape of cartoon characters, well-known company logos, and other popular designs. On two occasions in July 2018, Benson’s co-conspirator, Rafael Ruiz, sold thousands of methamphetamine-laced pills to an undercover agent in furtherance of the conspiracy. On Feb. 7, 2019, agents searched Benson’s living quarters, which were in the back rooms of a licensed elder-care facility in Vallejo, and found a pill press, methamphetamine-laced pills, bags of powders and other items for pressing pills, and a 12-gauge shotgun. The next day, agents searched Benson’s storage unit in Vacaville and found five more pill presses.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Vallejo Police Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Spencer and Ross Pearson, and Cameron Desmond are prosecuting the case.
On April 25, 2022, Ruiz was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to distribution of methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit robbery, and assault on a federal officer.
Co-defendant Roselle Cipriano, 39, of Vallejo, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and manufacture methamphetamine-laced pills.
U.S. District Judge Dale. A Drozd is scheduled to sentence Benson and Cipriano on Jan. 9, 2024. Benson and Cipriano face 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine for the methamphetamine trafficking counts. Benson faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, up to life in prison, and a fine up to $250,000 for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The actual sentences, 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 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.