Task Force Investigation Leads To Federal Indictments Of Fourteen Gang Members And Associates On Gun And Drug Charges
Five Defendants Remain Fugitives
BOISE – U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that over the last two months a federal grand jury in Boise indicted fourteen gang members and associates in twelve separate indictments for crimes including distributing methamphetamine and possessing firearms. The charges are the result of a long-term investigation by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force. The Metro Task Force focused its investigation on the “Norteno” or Northside gang, which is active in Nampa and other parts of the Treasure Valley. The indictments were returned in October and November 2014 and unsealed on Friday. Metro Task Force members arrested four of the indicted defendants November 20 and an additional defendant was arrested November 23. Four defendants were already in custody, and five more are fugitives.
The four defendants arrested November 20 appeared in court the following day. They are Jose Manuel Menchaca, 35, Nicole Danelle Nieto, 31, Brandi Marie Larrea, 31, and Guillermo Farias, Jr., 29, all from Nampa. Separate trials for these four are set in January 2015. Tara Noelle Rivera, 30, of Nampa, was arrested November 23 and will appear in court this week.
Of the fourteen individuals indicted, thirteen were indicted for drug charges including 22 counts of distributing methamphetamine, three counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and two counts of conspiracy to distribute. Five individuals were also indicted for firearms charges including five counts of unlawfully possessing firearms, one count of possessing a sawed-off shotgun, one count of unlawfully transferring a firearm, and two counts of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
“These charges mark a significant point in the Metro Task Force’s thorough and aggressive efforts to combat gang violence and drug trafficking in Treasure Valley communities,” said Olson. “Violent street gang members and their associates who engage in criminal conduct have clear and fair notice that law enforcement will identify them, investigate them and bring them to justice. Public safety demands this strong response.”
“I think this case underscores the importance of the collaborative efforts of our Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies and our dedicated effort to provide a safe environment for the people who live here,” said Sheriff Kieran Donahue. “Unfortunately violent criminal activity is rampant throughout our country and can often be traced to the relationship of the horrific consequences of drugs like methamphetamine which is so prevalent in our communities. We will continue to address this issue with all available resources and make it known that if you are involved with criminal activity in our area we will seek you out and we will hold you accountable.”
Four of the fourteen defendants already were in custody. They are Guadalupe Serrano, 35, of Caldwell, Johhny Lee Martinez, 33, of Nampa, Isaac Bright, 21, of Caldwell, and Kenny P. Breedlove, 35, of California. Martinez and Bright are currently in the custody of the Idaho Department of Corrections. Breedlove is currently in the Canyon County Jail. Serrano was first indicted in August 2014, and a superseding indictment was returned against him in November. He is in federal custody. The final five defendants are fugitives and have warrants outstanding for their arrest. They are Michael David Bradshaw, 31, Richard Lobato, 51, Veronica Cantu, 26, Jose Enrique Olvera Jr., 51, and Ruben Rodriguez, 36, all from Nampa.
Two norteno gang members in addition to those gang members and associates charged in October and November 2014 were charged last year and convicted earlier this year. On June 3, 2014, Anthony Rennie Jones, 29, of Nampa, was sentenced to 84 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release for distributing methamphetamine. On January 28, 2014, Maribel Menchaca, 37, of Nampa, was sentenced to 57 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
Federal drug trafficking charges are generally punishable by up to twenty years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million, and three years of supervised release. Where the defendants are charged with distributing more than fifty grams or more than five grams of pure methamphetamine, they face a minimum term of five up to forty years in prison, a fine up to $5 million, and a minimum of four years supervised release.
The charge of unlawfully possessing or transferring a firearm is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of possessing a sawed-off shotgun is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up three years of supervised release. The charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime is punishable by a minimum of five years up to life in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, up to five years supervised release, and the prison sentence must be imposed consecutive to any other sentence. The government is seeking forfeiture of the firearms and other property used to commit the offenses.
The indictments are the result of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which included the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; U.S. Marshals Service; and the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.
The indictment of these 14 gang members and associates marks the sixth significant gang prosecution investigated by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force since 2009. The Metro Task Force, which was created approximately nine years ago, is comprised of federal, state and local agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boise Police Department, Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Caldwell Police Department, Nampa Police Department, Meridian Police Department, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, and Idaho Department of Probation and Parole. The Metro Task Force conducts complex long-term investigation of criminal gangs. Prior gang investigations include those of the Aryan Knights gang, which resulted in the conviction of 23 gang members and associates on gun and drug charges in 2013; the Brown Magic Clica gang, which resulted in the conviction of eleven defendants on federal racketeering charges and numerous other state charges in 2012; the Nampa Northside gang, which resulted in the conviction of eleven gang members and associates also in 2011; another Nampa Northside investigation in 2010, which resulted in the conviction of multiple gang members, and the East Side Locos gang, which resulted in the convictions of approximately 25 gang members since 2009.
The charges are being prosecuted by the Special Assistant U.S. Attorney hired by the Treasure Valley Partnership, the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the State of Idaho to address gang crimes. The Gang SAUSA, although hired by state and local agencies, prosecutes cases in federal court. Those defendants convicted of federal charges are imprisoned in federal institutions rather than state prison, which results in significant savings by the State of Idaho. In the past year, the Gang SAUSA has indicted and prosecuted 44 individuals, resulting in a total of 289 defendants prosecuted in federal court since the program’s inception in February 2007. The Treasure Valley Partnership is comprised of a group of elected officials in southwest Idaho dedicated to regional coordination, cooperation, and collaboration on creating coherent regional growth. For more information, visit treasurevalleypartners.org.
These charges highlight the importance of both the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force and the Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. Their joint efforts are essential in combating criminal gang activity in the Treasure Valley. These cases signal that federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors will continue to aggressively target criminal gang activity.
An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.