Leader of Large Drug Conspiracy in Northern Kentucky Convicted
COVINGTON — The leader of a massive drug conspiracy that distributed large quantities of heroin and marijuana in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio has been convicted by a jury of multiple drug charges and other related offenses.
On Thursday, March 12, a federal jury convicted Alberto Lara-Chavez, 45, of Planada, Calif., of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, distribution of heroin and marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, conspiracy to launder money, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Felix Agundiz-Montes, 30, of Walton, Ky., was also convicted, of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, attempted distribution of marijuana, and conspiracy to launder money; and Jose Alberto-Lara, 23, of Planada, Calif., was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.
The jury returned the verdict after nine days of trial. The evidence established that from October 2012 through May 16, 2014, the defendants were members of a larger group that conspired to distribute heroin and marijuana in Kenton, Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, and Grant Counties in Kentucky as well as Hamilton, Brown, and Clermont counties in Ohio.
Evidence at trial established that the group shipped marijuana to this area from Texas and California and operated a large marijuana field in Sardinia, Ohio. The group brought heroin to this area from Columbus, Ohio for distribution. Evidence and court records showed that many of the members of the group were not legally present in the United States and had been brought here by other conspiracy members to sell narcotics. Many of them possessed firearms to protect the drugs and drug proceeds. The leaders of the group conspired to launder funds from the drug operation through bank deposits, wire transfers, and casino activity.
Lara-Chavez was the leader of the group and directed its local activities. Group members identified themselves as associates of a Mexican drug cartel.
Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Joseph Reagan, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Field Division, Drug Enforcement Administration, jointly made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Investigation Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. The United States was represented in the trial by Assistant United States Attorneys Tony Bracke and Jason Denney.
The defendants are scheduled to appear for sentencing before Judge Amul Thapar, in Covington, on July 1, 2015. Lara-Chavez faces a potential sentence of life imprisonment. Agundiz-Montes and Alberto-Lara face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. However, the sentences will be imposed by the court after consideration of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of sentences.