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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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

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

 

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

 

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

 

AGENCY

 

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.

CAS17-0228-Navarro
Topic: 
Public Corruption
Updated February 28, 2017