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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 20, 2022

Six Individuals Charged With Federal Drug Trafficking Offenses

SAN JOSE – Victor Nevarez, Juan Rivera Arzate, Adhemar Castaneda Becerril, and Pedro Gaona Salse were four of six charged defendants arrested and arraigned yesterday in federal court on narcotics trafficking charges, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon. 

Victor Nevarez, 49, who resides in San Jose, California, and Juan Rivera Arzate, 38, also of San Jose, were charged together in a four-person indictment unsealed yesterday with engaging in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine from December 13, 2020, to March 8, 2022.  According to representations by the government attorney at their arraignment hearing yesterday, agents seized more than ten kilograms of methamphetamine, thousands of dollars in cash, and a pistol in conjunction with the arrests of Nevarez and Arzate. 

Pedro Gaona Salse, 28, of San Jose, was arrested and arraigned on a complaint filed yesterday with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.  According to the complaint, DEA agents executed a search warrant at Gaona’s residence in the early morning of May 19, 2022.  Gaona was present in the home.  Next to a toilet in the bathroom nearest Gaona’s bedroom, the agents found approximately 80 grams of a gray substance believed to be fentanyl.  At Gaona’s arraignment hearing yesterday, the government attorney represented that agents also found a pistol at Gaona’s residence.

Adhemar Castaneda Becerril, 26, of Gilroy, was arrested and arraigned on a separate complaint filed yesterday charging him with possession with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense methamphetamine.  According to the complaint, in the early morning of May 19, DEA agents also executed a search warrant at Castaneda’s residence.  Castaneda was home at the time.  During the search, agents found in the laundry room a saucer pan with a dark liquid substance inside.  The dark liquid tested presumptively positive as methamphetamine.  The substance weighed approximately 2.6 kilograms (more than 5.8 pounds).  According to the complaint, other items were located near the liquid methamphetamine that, in combination, are consistent with clandestine methamphetamine conversion labs.

Nevarez, Arzate, Castaneda, and Gaona appeared for arraignments yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins. All were detained in custody pending upcoming detention hearings.  The hearings are scheduled next week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cousins. 

The charges, in sum, include an indictment charging Victor Nevarez, Juan Rivera Arzate, and others, with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B).  The complaint against Adhemar Castaneda Becerril charges him with possession with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense 50 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B).  These charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in prison, a maximum fine of $5,000,000, and a period of supervised release following imprisonment of at least 4 years.  The complaint against Pedro Gaona Salse charges him with possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl in violation of  21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C).  This charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1,000,000, and a period of supervised release following imprisonment of at least 3 years.  However, any sentence following conviction would 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.

Indictments and complaints merely allege that crimes have been committed, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.   

Michael G. Pitman and Daniel Kassabian are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Sahib Kaur.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by DEA.    

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States, by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
 

Updated May 20, 2022