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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fifty-Five Defendants Charged in Massive Crackdown on North County Heroin, Methamphetamine and Firearms Traffickers

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

San Diego, California

 

 

Acting United States Attorney

Alana W. Robinson

 

For Further Information, Contact:

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Matthew Sutton (619) 546-8941, Kyle Martin 546-8384,
Carol Lee 546-7584 and Michael Heyman 546-9615

For Immediate Release

 

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 1, 2017

SAN DIEGO – Ten federal indictments unsealed today charge 55 defendants with crimes ranging from money laundering to heroin, methamphetamine and firearms trafficking in what officials have described as one of the most significant crackdowns in recent memory.

 

The defendants, including prominent drug dealers and documented gang members, were responsible for supplying a substantial portion of the heroin and methamphetamine distributed in North County.

 

Early this morning, more than 150 members of the North County Regional Gang Task Force plus other law enforcement agencies made numerous arrests and during the course of the investigation searched more than 20 locations in Oceanside, Vista, elsewhere in North County and in Kingman, Arizona.

As of today at noon, 46 of the fifty-five defendants are either in federal or state custody. Fourteen were arrested this morning; the rest were arrested earlier in the week or were already in custody. Authorities are continuing to search for seven defendants; two are in Mexico. Many of the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford at 2:00 p.m. today and tomorrow.

 

The yearlong investigation was led by the North County Regional Gang Task Force. It involved months of federal wiretaps, dozens of undercover drug and gun buys and extensive surveillance. Many of the defendants are documented members or associates of violent North County street gangs, including the Vista Home Boys, Varrio Fallbrook Locos, Varrio Carlsbad Locos, Encinitas Tortilla Flats, Varrio San Marcos and Escondido Viejo Diablos.

 

According to charging documents, the defendants were involved in a variety of crimes, including drug distribution, firearms trafficking, robberies, vehicle thefts, burglaries and assaults.

 

photo of seized firearms

25 firearms including handguns, revolvers and assault rifles.

In total, authorities seized heroin, methamphetamine and 25 firearms, including handguns, revolvers and assault rifles. These drugs and guns were being stored and sold in our North County neighborhoods, including across the street from Vista High School.

 

The charging documents describe a trafficking organization allegedly led by a Mexico-based woman who used dozens of street gang members to distribute heroin. Defendant Yadira “Pini” Villalvazo attended Vista High School and was an associate of Vista Home Boys street gang before she was deported following a federal drug trafficking conviction in 2002. According to charging documents, Villalvazo is now running her own Sinaloa Cartel-linked organization from Tijuana. Her specialty is still heroin.

 

According to court records, this drug trafficking organization supplied at least 25 percent of the heroin sold and consumed in North County and grossed tens of thousands of dollars in proceeds that were sent back to Mexico. The Villalvazo network distributed heroin in North County and also supplied pound quantities of heroin to a prolific distribution ring in Kingman, Arizona.

 

During this investigation, the gang task force also targeted major methamphetamine distribution cells connected to North County street gangs, including rings allegedly led by Sabrina Yzaguirre, Ivan Bazan, aka “Dreamer,” and Jorge Enrique Jara Cervantes, aka “Scorpion.” In addition, the ring allegedly led by Jara shipped pound quantities of methamphetamine for distribution in Alabama and Tennessee.

 

Heroin deaths in San Diego County more than doubled in the last decade, from 40 in 2005 to 90 in 2015. And this is despite the use of naloxone, which first responders have used to save countless lives. In 2015 alone, paramedics used naloxone 1,340 times. Heroin treatment admissions have risen every year in San Diego County since 2011.

Eight Fugitives

fugitives_no_worries.pdf 
Meth-related deaths increased more than 80% between 2011 and 2015. And about half of adults arrested in 2015 tested positive for meth at the time of their arrest.

 

“Today we’ve taken out one of North County’s largest heroin suppliers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “This crackdown is our most significant response to date to the heroin epidemic ravaging our communities. We anticipate seeing a huge impact now that these defendants are removed from our community, particularly in the North County cities of Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and other areas plagued by gangs.”

 

“The Sheriff's Department is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to keep the influence of drugs and gangs away from our children and out of our community,” said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum stated, “This investigation demonstrates the complex, international and multi-faceted nature of the gang threat in North County where heroin, methamphetamine and firearms related crimes threaten our communities. The FBI will continue to work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners at the North County Regional Gang Task Force to restore these neighborhoods to the good citizens who live in them.”

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Robinson praised the task force for the coordinated team effort in the culmination of this investigation. Agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego County Sheriff's Office, Oceanside Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Bureau of Prisons, Homeland Security Investigations. U.S. Marshals Service, California Highway Patrol, and the Escondido and Carlsbad Police Departments collaborated on this investigation. Attorneys from the Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations, Electronic Surveillance Unit, also provided critical assistance to the investigation.

 

This case is also 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. Attorneys Matthew J. Sutton, Kyle B. Martin, Carol Lee, and Michael J. Heyman.

 

Operation No Worries Defendant Information

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0336-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Yadira Esmeralda Villalvazo,

aka “Pini”

38

Tijuana, MX

Andrea Ball

37

Vista, CA

Cristina Gomez

30

Vista, CA

Joel Villalvazo

25

Vista, CA

Joshua O’Brien

35

Fallbrook, CA

David Dominguez,

aka “Bandit”

36

Vista, CA

Tina Dominguez

35

Vista, CA

Fidel Jimenez

36

Oceanside, CA

Naomi Jimenez,

aka “Huera”

42

Vista, CA

Salvador Mendez

46

Fallbrook, CA

David Siladji

37

Vista, CA

Angel Serrato

55

Vista, CA

Alexander Mendoza

29

Carlsbad, CA

Rene Ramos

45

Kingman, AZ

Maria Sanchez

41

Kingman, AZ

Edivan Patino

27

Vista, CA

Richard Seffens

39

Poway, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Conspiracy to Import Heroin, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952, 960, and 963;

Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 1956(a)(2)(B)(i) and (h);

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Maximum Penalties: For the drug charges, life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine. For the money laundering charges, 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved.

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0337-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Andrea Ball

37

Vista, CA

Travis Hensley

36

Fallbrook, CA

Aaron McCune

36

San Marcos, CA

Vanessa Rojas

44

Vista, CA

Edward Araiza

42

Oceanside, CA

 

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2)

Maximum Penalties: For drug charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a 10 million dollar fine. For firearms charges: 10 years’ in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

 

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0338-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Javier Castrellon,

Aka “Javi”

53

San Marcos, CA

Manuel Espinoza,

Aka “Manny

48

Encinitas, CA

James Caruthers

54

Oceanside, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)

Maximum Penalties: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.

 

DEFENDANT Criminal Case No: 17CR0339-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Pedro Bret Cueva,

Aka “Largo

 

26

San Marcos, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)

Maximum Penalties: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a 10 million dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANT Criminal Case No: 17CR0340-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Julio Cesar Valverde,

Aka “Night Owl”

 

28

San Marcos, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)

Maximum Penalties: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a 10 million dollar fine.

 

 

DEFENDANT Criminal Case No: 17CR0482-JAH

Name

Age

Hometown

Noe Rene Lugo

Aka “No-No,” “Wolfie”

 

33

Vista, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Dealing in Firearms Without a License in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 922(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2)

Maximum Penalties: For firearms charges: 10 years’ in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0483-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Jose Alejandre-Ruvalcaba,

Aka “Scrappy”

42

Tijuana, MX

Kristina Lee Rozzo

43

Vista, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Import Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952, 960 and 963.

Maximum Penalties: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a 10 million dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0484-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Ivan Bazan

Aka “Dreamer”

32

Vista, CA

Brhandon Puga

20

Chula Vista, CA

Matthew Ortiz

35

Chula Vista, CA

Cheytan Siva,

Aka “Hawk”

36

Vista, CA

Luis Gonzalez,

Aka “Knockout”

32

Vista, CA

James Mathes

32

Oceanside, CA

Eva Corona

33

Carlsbad, CA

Randy Moraleja

35

Escondido, CA

Brett Mooney

37

Oceanside, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

Maximum Penalties: For drug charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million dollar. For firearms charges: 10 years’ in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0485-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Jorge Enrique Jara Cervantes

Aka “Scorpion”

28

Vista, CA

Jaime Orozco

30

Vista, CA

Gabriele Solis

26

Vista, CA

Alex Camou

27

Vista, CA

Morgan Peterson

25

Carlsbad, CA

Keith Collins

Aka “Lurch

32

Oceanside, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

Maximum Penalties: For drug charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a 10 million dollar fine. For firearms charges: 10 years’ in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANTS Criminal Case No: 17CR0487-LAB

Name

Age

Hometown

Sabrina Yzaguirre

28

Vista, CA

Roberto Recendez,

Aka “Grandpa”

54

Vista, CA

Eduardo Oretga,

Aka “Lalo”

25

Oceanside, CA

Antonio Becerra,

Aka “Thief”

30

Vista, CA

Kimberly Arenas

41

Escondido, CA

Manuel Guerena

37

Escondido, CA

Marco Vasquez

Aka “No-No”

24

Vista, CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Molina-Bailon

34

Vista, CA

Santiago Rios,

Aka “Jimmy”

35

Vista, CA

Alex Camou

27

Vista, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846;

Distribution of Methamphetamine, in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

Maximum Penalties: For drug charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine. For firearms charges: 10 years in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

DEFENDANT Criminal Case No: 17MJ0467-NLS

Name

Age

Hometown

Linda Cowan

 

46

Oceanside, CA

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute in violation of Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1);

Felon in Possession of a Firearm in in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2)

Maximum Penalties: For drug charges: life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine. For firearms charges: 10 years in prison, and a 250,000 dollar fine.

 

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

AGENCIES

 

North County Regional Gang Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego County Sheriff's Office, Oceanside Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Bureau of Prisons, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Marshals Service, California Highway Patrol, and the Escondido and Carlsbad Police Departments, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

 

CAS17-0301-No Worries
Topic: 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated March 1, 2017