Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Corrections Officer, Inmates and Others Arrested in Drug Smuggling Conspiracy at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

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

Assistant U. S. Attorney Andrew Young (619) 546-7981

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Robinson (619)-546-7994


NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 28, 2017


SAN DIEGO – Eleven people, including a former Corrections Officer at Richard J. Donovan (“RJD”) Correctional Facility, are charged in federal court as members of a network that smuggled methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cellular telephones into the prison.


The key defendant, Anibal Navarro, the former Corrections Officer at RJD, was arrested by FBI Agents and officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations-Office of Internal Affairs on June 26, 2016 as he attempted to smuggle heroin, methamphetamine and cellular telephones into the prison.


Ten additional individuals, including inmates and their associates on the outside, were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they conspired with Navarro to smuggle drugs and cellular telephones into the prison. Navarro was released on bond.


Four defendants were arrested today in Los Angeles; six are already in custody in California state prisons.


According to the indictment, Martin Gomez, while an inmate at RJD in 2014, recruited Navarro to smuggle contraband into the prison. After Gomez was moved to another California state prison, he continued to coordinate and supervise the operation by conducting conference calls with Sylvia Gonzales, Gomez’s associate outside the prison, Navarro and others. During these calls, the conspirators arranged for narcotics, cellular telephones and cash to be delivered to Navarro at various locations in Southern California.


In addition to Gonzales, the smuggling operation was also aided by others outside the prison, including Everaldo Santana, Norma Alvardo-Medina and Vanessa Jackson, according to allegations in the indictment. These individuals provided Navarro with the narcotics and cellular telephones to smuggle into the prison. return, Navarro was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled contraband into the prison. According to the dictment, this smuggling operation began in April 2014 and lasted nearly two years until it was dismantled in June 2016 with Navarro’s arrest.


The indictment alleges that after the contraband was smuggled into the prison, RJD inmates Agustin Aceves, Juan Gutierrez, John Price, Jeremy Gaither and Hugo Alvarado received and distributed the narcotics and cellular telephones to other inmates. The phones were used to coordinate criminal activity both inside and outside the facility.


Deputy United States Attorney Mark Conover said, “Corrections officers play a critical role in protecting the public from some of the most dangerous criminals. By placing greed above his duty, former Officer Navarro compromised the security of the public and enabled violent felons to continue committing crimes within the prison walls. We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute every individual involved in these criminal activities.”


FBI Special Agent Eric S. Birnbaum said, “The FBI is responsible for investigating corruption involving government officials and their entire criminal networks. Today’s arrests are an example of how our investigators work with our law enforcement and corrections partners to reveal the individuals fulfilling each role of the criminal network that affect the safety and security of our correctional facilities.”


The FBI encourages the public to report allegations of public corruption to our hotline at (877) NO-BRIBE (662-7423).


DEFENDANTS Case No. 17cr0446-AJB


MARTIN GOMEZ Age 56 Lancaster Prison


SYLVIA GONZALES Age 57 Sylmar, California


EVERALDO SANTANA Age 25 Los Angeles, California


AGUSTIN ACEVES Age 42 Lancaster Prison


NORMA ALVARADO-MEDINA Age 33 El Monte, California


JUAN GUTIERREZ Age 42 Vacaville, California


JOHN PRICE Age 20 Salinas Valley Prison


VANESSA JACKSON Age 39 Pasadena, California


JEREMY GAITHER Age 33 Valley State Prison


HUGO ALVARADO Age 24 High Desert Prison


DEFENDANTS Case No. 16cr1664-AJB


ANIBAL NAVARRO Age 38 Chula Vista, California




Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841(a) (1) and 846

Maximum Penalty: Life in Prison


Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 1349

Maximum Penalty: 20 years in prison




Federal Bureau of Investigation – San Diego Field Office


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Internal Affairs


California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Investigative Service Unit


United States Postal Service – Inspection Service


San Diego Police Department


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

Updated February 28, 2017

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: CAS17-0228-Navarro