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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Multiple Defendants Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Violent Crimes

OXFORD – A Tupelo woman, the final defendant in a multi-defendant conspiracy, has been sentenced to 205 months in federal prison resulting from her role in a methamphetamine (ice) distribution conspiracy in the Northern District of Mississippi. The defendant, Judy Harmon, was also ordered to forfeit thousands of dollars in drug trafficking proceeds. Harmon was convicted after a week-long jury trial in United States District Court in September 2017. Chief Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced her for her crimes in United States District Court Wednesday morning.

The investigation and prosecution of this international drug trafficking organization responsible for distributing more than 120 pounds of methamphetamine, obtained from Mexico and transported through Southern California to North Mississippi, is the result of a joint investigation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, North Mississippi Narcotics Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The investigation involved numerous search warrants, arrests, and convictions resulting in the seizure of firearms, drugs and property. In all, ten defendants have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in the drug trafficking conspiracy.

William C. Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, Joseph Frank, Supervisory Special Agent for the Oxford ATF Office, Warner Benson, Resident Agent in Charge of the Oxford Office of the DEA, and Phillip Robertson, Major, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics made the announcement on Wednesday.

Following the sentencing, US Attorney Lamar affirmed the commitment of his office to the aggressive prosecution of drug trafficking organizations operating in the Northern District of Mississippi. “As a part of our Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative and in conjunction with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, this office will continue to work hand-in-hand with our state and local partners and use all available resources to protect our communities from Trans-National Drug Organizations, like the one dismantled in this case, who threaten the well-being of our citizens as they seek illegitimate profits through violence and drug trafficking,” Lamar stated.

Nine other defendants were also convicted and sentenced as a result of the investigation

  • Rudy Flores pleaded guilty in January of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to discharge a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced Flores to a total of 175 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

 

  • Fernando Manguilla-Paez of Mexico pleaded guilty in February of 2017 to one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Judge Aycock ordered Manguilla-Paez to serve a total of 157 months in custody.

 

  • Methamphetamine supplier, Ricardo Aguilar Gonzalez of San Diego, California, pleaded guilty in February of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to commit interstate racketeering. Judge Aycock ordered Gonzalez to serve a total of 168 months in custody.

 

  • Thomas Scruggs of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Judge Aycock sentenced Scruggs as a career offender and ordered Scruggs to serve a total of 240 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

 

  • Jerry Zamora, a/k/a “Gerardo Lima” of Mexico pleaded guilty in June of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of possession of firearms by an illegal alien and one count of conspiracy to commit interstate racketeering. Judge Aycock ordered Zamora to serve 200 months in custody.

 

  • Abigail Lima of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in May of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to commit interstate racketeering. Judge Aycock ordered Lima to serve 31 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

 

  • Manual Sandiago of Mexico pleaded guilty in May of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of firearms by an illegal alien. Judge Aycock ordered Sandiago to serve 101 months in custody.

 

  • David Espiricueta of Houston, Mississippi pleaded guilty in April 2017 to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Judge Aycock sentenced Espiricueta to 150 months in custody, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

 

  • Raul Cruz-Lopez of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in February of 2017 to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm by an illegal alien. Judge Aycock ordered Cruz-Lopez to serve 70 months in custody.

 

These charges were the result of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that provides supplemental funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations, and pursuant to the Project Safe Neighborhoods anti-violent crime initiative. Several agencies were crucial to this investigation, including the DEA, ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, North East Mississippi Narcotics Unit, Tupelo Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, and the Mississippi National Guard Counter-Drug Unit.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad M. Doleac and Sam Wright.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Updated March 28, 2018