Three-Month Campaign to Reduce Violent Crime Results in Seizure of 165 Firearms and 29 Prosecutions for Gun, Drug and Violent Crimes
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 14, 2018
SAN DIEGO – Juan A. Mexicano, aged 33, was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel to 135 months in custody. Mexicano previously pled guilty, admitting his role in an expanding cocaine distribution conspiracy, extending from Guatemala and Mexico to San Diego and Chicago, that involved the seizure of grenades, .50 caliber firearms, assault weapons and other firearms.
In his plea agreement, Mexicano admitted to maintaining a narcotics stash house in Illinois that he used to distribute cocaine from a Mexican-based trafficker, identified in court documents as “El 99”. Mexicano also acknowledged that he made arrangements to import cocaine through the Southern District of California and that he possessed weapons seized from a storage facility in Illinois. The weapons included two hand grenades; a grenade launcher; five .50 caliber weapons; one .22 handgun with a silencer; 26 other assault style weapons, including a submachine gun; more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition; and six ballistic vests. During sentencing, Judge Curiel noted “this catalog of armaments was capable of mass destruction” and that these weapons “evidence[d] the danger to the community that this group of drug traffickers posed to the community in Illinois.”
Mexicano, who is the fourth defendant to be sentenced in the case, further admitted that the stash house near Chicago was used for the temporary storage of cocaine and acknowledged that up to approximately 150 kilograms (approximately 330 pounds) of cocaine was stored there.
As part of its sentence, the court credited Mexicano with 15 months, for time served in state custody. Mexicano also faces sentencing on January 4, 2019, in connection with his separate guilty plea to charges in Kane County, Illinois (Case No. 17CF1720) related to the weapons stockpile.
“I am grateful for the efforts of our law enforcement partners to remove these dangerous narcotics and weapons from our communities and out of the hands of violent drug dealers,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “We are committed to stopping the traffickers, whose sole aim is to profit from human misery.”
“Today’s sentencing of Mexicano is the example of the great collaborative effort of law enforcement and prosecutors to bring to justice those who endanger our communities with illicit drugs and dangerous weapons.” said David Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “This investigation demonstrates that these types of criminals, who facilitate the movement of contraband for transnational criminal organizations will be pursued by law enforcement and held accountable for their actions.”
In addition to Mexicano, other defendants who have entered guilty pleas in the federal case are: Walter Rovidio Ipina, aged 40; David Castaneda-Solis, aged 33; Zachary Vasquez, aged 27; and Jacob Castillo, aged 48. Only Vasquez remains to be sentenced.
Through his plea agreement, Ipina admitted that, during 2016, he moved the cocaine provided by “El 99” through the Southern District of California by using his family owned trucking business’ tractor-trailer to transport the cocaine from Southern California to the Chicago, Illinois area. In September 2016, he was stopped by law enforcement with 32 kilograms of cocaine. Ipina was sentenced to 50-months in custody by Judge Curiel on August 3, 2018.
Castaneda-Solis pleaded guilty to laundering narcotics proceeds. On August 12, 2016, Castaneda-Solis was caught by law enforcement while he was unloading $154,000 in narcotics proceeds from a hidden compartment in the dashboard of a Honda Pilot vehicle. Castaneda-Solis admitted that he placed these proceeds into a black bag for delivery to Mexico. Castaneda-Solis was sentenced to 70 months in custody by Judge Curiel on October 3, 2018.
Vasquez pleaded guilty to the cocaine conspiracy and admitted that he served as a narcotics load coordinator/recruiter. He admitted to coordinating with “El 99” in Mexico. Vasquez also admitted to recruiting and supervising a driver who smuggled cocaine through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on at least four occasions before that driver was arrested. Vasquez admitted that the scope of his involvement in the conspiracy included trafficking beteween 125 to 150 kilograms of cocaine. Vasquez is scheduled for sentencing on March 15, 2019.
Castillo-Lopez pleaded guilty to laundering narcotics proceeds. In his plea agreement, he admitted to using bulk currency to purchase trucks and other vehicles that he arranged to export to benefit narcotics traffickers in Guatemala. Castillo-Lopez was sentenced to 33 months in custody by Judge Curiel on November 2, 2018.
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
The United States is represented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence A. Casper.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 17-cr-648
Juan A. Mexicano Age: 33 Addison, IL
Walter R. Ipina Age: 40 Victorville, CA
David Castaneda-Solis Age: 34 Mexico
Zachary Vasquez Age: 27 Anaheim, CA
Jacob Castillo-Lopez Age: 48 Guatemala
SUMMARY OF CHARGES TO WHICH GUILTY PLEAS ENTERED
Mexicano, Ipina & Vasquez
Conspiracy to Unlawfully Distribute Cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 846
Maximum penalty: Life in prison, and a mandatory minimum 10 years; $10,000,000 fine; and at least five years’ supervised release up to life.
Castaneda-Solis & Castillo-Lopez
Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h)
Maximum penalty: 20 years custody; 3 years supervised release; and $500,000 fine.
Homeland Security Investigations
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives
Ventura County, CA Sheriff’s Office
Police Departments of: Elgin, IL; Addison, IL.; Chicago, IL; Hoffman Estates, IL;
New Lenox, IL; Olympia Fields, IL; Streamwood, IL; and Lombard, IL
Sheriff’s Offices of: Kane County, IL; DuPage County, IL; Will County, IL
Cindy Cipriani 619-546-9608