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Press Release

Final Defendants in Gang-Affiliated Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced to Decades in Prison; Sentencings Bring an End to the Successful Conviction of all 25 Charged Defendants

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Andrew Haden (619) 546-6961 and Seth Askins (619) 546-6692    


NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 5, 2018


SAN DIEGO – Deandre Cook today became the last of 25 gang members and associates to be sentenced as part of a prolific gun and drug trafficking operation that sold large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin in southeast San Diego neighborhoods. Cook was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Houston to 84 months in prison.

Today’s sentencing brings the case to a close with the successful convictions of all 25 defendants.  Last month, Judge Houston sentenced the lead defendant in the conspiracy, Fili Usini, to 14 years in prison.


The two original 2016 indictments were the product of a year-long investigation. Over 1,500 grams of methamphetamine, 248 grams of heroin and six firearms were also seized as part of the investigation. The two indictments charged four different conspiracies with overlapping players, including individuals with ties to criminal street gangs such as Skyline, the Samoan Bloods, Kalaban, the Stateside Islanders, the Paradise Hills Locos, Logan Heights, Old Town National City, National City Southside Mob, Trust No Soul and Lincoln Park. Most of the defendants were selling methamphetamine on the streets of southeast San Diego. Other defendants were involved in the importation of methamphetamine and heroin from Mexico.

All 25 defendants charged in the case pleaded guilty and were convicted of drug trafficking. Three defendants were also charged with and pleaded guilty to being felons in possession of firearms. Judge Houston imposed prison terms on all 25 defendants, ranging from a low of 14 months to the high of 168 months for Usini.  All but six defendants received prison terms in excess of five years.

The case was the product of a coalition of local, state, and federal agents, led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Gang Investigations Group and the San Diego Police Department.

“Methamphetamine is wrecking lives and communities, and this successful prosecution brings an immediate halt to the dangerous environment created by these 25 gang members and associates,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “This case is a huge success story in our efforts to restore peace and safety to San Diego neighborhoods. We are going to continue our attack on those gang members who are committing violence on the streets of San Diego.”


"HSI Special Agents will continue to work with other law enforcement partners and prosecutors to eliminate the dangers that gang members bring up on our communities and put a stop to their criminal enterprises," said David Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of HSI in San Diego. “We will continue to work diligently to investigate, and ultimately dismantle these transnational street gangs and bring them to justice.”


“This operation and collaborative effort is yet another example of how well San Diego County law enforcement agencies partner together to fight crime to keep our neighborhoods safe", said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. "We will not tolerate criminal activity and we will continue to work together with all of our communities to make San Diego the safest City in the nation.”


United States v. Ortiz, et al, 16-CR-874-JAH




FRANCISCO JAVIER ORTIZ-LUNA (1) –75 months prison

JAVIER HERNANDEZ (2) – 37 months prison

YARELI MAGNOLIA NORIEGA (3) – 78 months prison

JASMINE EUNIQUE RIPP (4) – 46 months prison

JULIO ALBERTO ONTIVEROS (5) – 46 months prison


Summary of Charges


Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952, 960, 963 Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances - Life

Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846 B Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine - Life

Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 and 960  Importation of Methamphetamine – 20 years

Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)- Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute – 40 years

Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 952 and 960 B Importation of Heroin – 40 years

Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)- Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute – 20 years


United States v. Usini, et al., 16-CR-875-JAH




FILI USINI (1) – 168 months prison

VIRGILIO SORIANO VILLEGAS (2) – 87 months prison

CARL DELANDO BRANDON (3) – 75 months prison

DEANDRE COOK (4) – 84 months prison

FRANC LESTER BULARAN (5) – 110 months prison

ANTHONY VELARDE (6) – 120 months prison

KRISTOFFER UMALI MACALMA (7) – 110 months prison

BICENTENNIAL POUTOA (8) – 110 months prison

VICTOR CERVANTES (9) – 120 months prison

JORGE ARMANDO SALAS (10) – 90 months prison

MAURICE SCOTT (11) – 70 months prison

JAMES GILLESPIE (12) – 63 months prison

KEITH IAULUALO (13) – 54 months prison

LONNIE DARNELL ANDERSON (14) – 60 months prison

TERRENCE ANDERSON (15) – 70 months prison

PATRICK JEFFREY DIBBLE (16) – 85 months prison

KEMONDRE HAMILTON (17) – 40 months prison

RICHARD BELCHER (18) – 60 months prison

LAVONN WILLIAM HALL (19) – 75 months prison

ANITA VILLALBA (20) – 14 months prison


Summary of Charges


Title 21, U.S.C., Secs. 841(a)(1) and 846 B Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine – Life

Title 21, U.S.C., Sec. 841(a)(1)- Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute – Life

Title 18, U.S.C., Sec 922(g)(1) – Felon in Possession of a Firearm – 10 years

Title 21, U.S.C., 853, Title 18, U.S.C., 924(d), and Title 28, U.S.C., 2461(c) – Criminal Forfeiture




Homeland Security Investigations

San Diego Police Department

Drug Enforcement Administration

Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives

San Diego Sheriff’s Department

San Diego County Probation Department

El Cajon Police Department

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

U.S. Bureau of Prisons


Updated January 8, 2018

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Press Release Number: CAS18-0105-Cook