Three More Sentenced In E. Idaho Meth Trafficking Case
POCATELLO – U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today the sentencing of three more members of an Eastern Idaho drug trafficking organization. The defendants appeared this week before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.
Ricardo Garcia Lopez, 36, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced today to 235 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine. Lopez was also ordered to forfeit a firearm and pay a $1,000 fine. He pleaded guilty to the charge on December 19, 2012.
On Monday, Alberto Abarca, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced to 130 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty to the charge on January 23.
Ana Rosa Valdez-Ceja, 26, of Shelley, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to two years’ probation for money laundering. She pleaded guilty to the charge on January 23.
According to plea agreements filed in the case, from June 2005 through January 2012, a group of individuals centered around co-defendant Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, a Mexican national, entered into a conspiracy to possess and distribute in excess of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in the Idaho Falls area. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Nevarez-Ayon directed activities of various co-defendants, including Lopez, Abarca and Valdez-Ceja. In addition to distributing methamphetamine, several defendants laundered proceeds from the sale of the methamphetamine and made false loan applications to local banks to further the laundering of money. During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants obtained in excess of $500,000 from the distribution of methamphetamine.
In addition to the defendants sentenced this week, four co-defendants were sentenced in March and April to serve federal prison sentences for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine: Rafael Ignacio Guerrero, a Mexican national, was sentenced to 42 months; Antonio Javier Mendoza, of Shelley, Idaho, to 96 months; Fabiola Esmerelda Marin Castro, a Mexican national, to 36 months; and Daniel Quiroz, a Mexican national, to 78 months. Abel Garcia, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced in March 2013 to one month in prison for making a false statement to a bank.
The remaining defendants, Nevarez-Ayon, Juan Ortiz, Jr., Everado Tapia-Torres, Jr., Nicholas Levi Olsen, and Isidoro David Herrera, pleaded guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing later this month. Guadalupe Meraz is a fugitive.
The charges are the result of a nine-month investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which included the Idaho State Police, Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, Rexburg Police Department, Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.
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.