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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Defendants Convicted At Trial Of Conspiring To Traffick Cocaine

SAN FRANCISCO – Fortunato Rodelo-Lara and Jesus Wilfredo Almendares-Vasquez were convicted of two counts of engaging in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and one count of distribution of cocaine by a federal jury on Nov. 18, 2014, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Jay Fitzpatrick.

The jury found that from 2009 to 2012, the defendants worked with others to obtain cocaine from Southern California and distributing it in the Bay Area and in Seattle, Wash. Evidence at trial showed that Fortunato Rodelo-Lara, 45, of San Mateo, provided cash used to obtain cocaine on Jan. 22, 2010, and that the cocaine was then redistributed by members of the conspiracy. Rodelo-Lara also helped wrap and conceal kilograms of cocaine on other occasions as a part of the conspiracy. Evidence at trial also showed that Almendares-Vasquez, 39, of South San Francisco, distributed cocaine out of his auto detailing business in South San Francisco in 2010. The guilty verdict followed a two-week jury trial before the Honorable Edward M. Chen, United States District Court Judge.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Rodelo-Lara and Almendares-Vasquez were charged along with other co-defendants with various drug trafficking offenses. Seven other defendants have previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, cocaine base i.e. “crack” cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as other offenses in the case. The investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration also resulted in cases filed in the Central District of California and the Western District of Washington.

Rodelo-Lara and Almendares-Vasquez were indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 17, 2012. They were charged with multiple violations of drug trafficking offenses, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 841(a)(1).

Upon conviction, Rodelo-Lara was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal. Almendares-Vasquez is currently released on electronic monitoring with a bond amount of $200,000.

The defendants’ sentencing hearings are scheduled for Feb. 18, 2015, before Judge Chen in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each count is life imprisonment, lifetime supervised release following a term of imprisonment, and a fine of $10 million dollars. The defendants are each subject to a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a minimum of 4 years of supervised release. Any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Rodelo-Lara and Almendares-Vasquez indictment

Rodelo-Lara and Almendares-Vasquez superseding indictment

Updated November 26, 2014