Leader Of San Francisco MS-13 Clique Convicted By Jury Of Racketeering Conspiracy, And Murder & Attempted Murder In Aid Of Racketeering
SAN FRANCISCO – Ryan Alan Balletto was sentenced to 372 months in prison today for his role in a conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana; his possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking; and his employment of a minor to violate drug laws, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge San Francisco and Northern California) Ryan Spradlin. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, Senior United States District Judge.
Balletto, 36, of Lake County, Calif., pleaded guilty to the charges on December 7, 2018. According to his plea agreement, Balletto admitted he worked with others to grow more than 1,300 plants of marijuana in 2013 in Lake County with the intention of selling the marijuana for profit. In connection with the marijuana-growing operation, Balletto coerced a female minor (then 15 years old) into working in the marijuana grow. Balletto initially met the 15-year-old victim in Los Angeles, and offered to let her live with his family in Northern California. Instead, he drove her to his rural marijuana cultivating site in Lake County and coerced her into helping with marijuana cultivation. In connection with this coercion, Balletto admitted to physically abusing the minor victim, including by forcibly confining her in a small, metal tool chest for an extended period of time, restraining her, and electrically shocking her. In addition, Balletto admitted to sexually abusing the minor victim by having non-consensual sex with her while requiring her to work on the marijuana grow.
In addition, Balletto admitted to possessing numerous firearms, including two .223 caliber assault rifles, in furtherance of the marijuana-growing operation.
Balletto further admitted that, upon learning that the police were looking for the minor victim, a co-conspirator instructed her to call 9-1-1 and tell them that she was with friends and was “all right.”
A federal grand jury handed down an indictment on August 1, 2013, charging Balletto with one count of each of conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; manufacturing marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 924(c); employment of a minor to violate drug laws, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 861. Balletto pleaded guilty to all counts except the substantive distribution charge. Balletto has been in custody since his arrests in May 2013 and will begin serving his prison term immediately.
Also charged in the August 1, 2013, indictment was Balletto’s co-defendant Patrick Stephen Pearmain, 31, of Lake County. On October 23, 2018, Pearmain, pleaded guilty to employment of a minor to violate drug laws and conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana. On April 19, 2019, Judge Breyer sentenced Pearmain to serve 150 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
The female, minor victim was rescued, and both men were arrested, as a result of the joint efforts of the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Defense – Criminal Investigation Service, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the West Sacramento Police Department. The men were prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California with significant assistance from the Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew L. McCarthy and Kevin J. Barry are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, with the cooperation of the law-enforcement agencies listed above.