Last Defendant In Large-Scale Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Pleads Guilty
RENO, Nev. – On Monday, three Nevada men pleaded guilty to their participation in a 17-defendant drug trafficking distribution conspiracy that operated in the Reno area in 2018, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich. All 17 defendants now have pleaded guilty and await sentencing before Chief U.S. District Judge Mirada Du.
“Our office, through its vigorous implementation of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, worked together with partner agencies to dismantle a large-scale drug trafficking organization in northern Nevada,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada. “We will continue to aggressively pursue traffickers who push poison into our communities.”
“The FBI is committed to working with our local partners in sophisticated investigations to reduce violence and drug trafficking throughout our state,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI. “This case underscores the impact of the FBI’s increased resources devoted to northern Nevada.”
The men who pleaded guilty on Monday are: Jose Vega, 34; Angel Diaz, 22; and Juan Baca, 45. The other defendants who pleaded guilty earlier this year are: Jose Valentin Mora, 37; Sandy Diaz Tavares, 35; Javier Chavez, 59; Shawn Curl, 36; Marcos Antonio Hernandez-Cisneros, 59; Roberto Mora-Mora, 53; Elizabeth Reyes-Delacerda, 27; Richard Rossall, 53; Ciara Hernandez, 19; Marco Antonio Ramirez, 37; Leon DeJesus Munera, 29; Kelsea Barbara Riley, 28; and Jorge Ayala-Chavez, 44, all of Reno. One defendant, Francisco Meza Recio, 32, of Simi Valley, California, remains a fugitive.
According to admissions and court documents, between January 25, 2018 to June 14, 2018, the defendants conspired with each other to possess and distribute large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin in the Reno area, and used their phones to further this drug trafficking conspiracy. On several occasions, Jose Valentin Mora, the conspiracy’s leader, arranged for four co-conspirators to drive to California to pick up a large amount of drugs to bring back to Mora in Reno. Mora maintained a trailer in Reno, where he kept the drugs before distributing them to others, including several co-conspirators. These co-conspirators redistributed the drugs to others in Reno.
According to court documents, much of the evidence establishing the existence of the drug trafficking conspiracy was obtained through Court-authorized interception of Mora’s cellular telephones and the execution by law enforcement agents of 25 search warrants for premises and vehicles. During the investigation, law enforcement agents recovered close to 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 18 firearms.
In a separate case, Jose Valentin Mora pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a firearm following an earlier felony conviction for drugs that made him ineligible to possess firearms. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a fine of $10,000,000 for his guilty plea in the drug trafficking conspiracy, and a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for his felon in possession case.
Mora’s codefendants, whose guilty pleas correspond to the various roles they played in this drug conspiracy, face a maximum penalty of between 4 years and life in prison.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force with significant assistance by the Reno Police Department, the Sparks Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Assistant U.S. Attorneys James E. Keller and Andolyn Johnson are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime. For more information about PSN, visit www.justice.gov/usao-nv.