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Press Release

Fourth Defendant Pleads Guilty In Wide-Ranging Cocaine Conspiracy; Admits Illinois Weapons Cache Was Part of Conspiracy

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


SAN DIEGO – Juan A. Mexicano, aged 33, pleaded guilty today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruben B. Brooks to an expanding cocaine distribution conspiracy, extending from Mexico to San Diego to the Chicago, Illinois area.  Mexicano, who remains in custody, is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in this case.  He admitted to maintaining a narcotics stash house in Illinois to further the distribution of cocaine that emanated from a Mexican-based trafficker, identified in court documents as “El 99”, and which entered the United States via the Southern District of California.  Mexicano also admitted that a cache of firearms and other weapons, including two live grenades, that law enforcement located in a storage facility rented in Mexicano’s name were possessed in relation to his involvement in the narcotics conspiracy. 

Through his plea agreement, Mexicano admitted that the stash house, approximately 10 miles northwest of Chicago, was used for the temporary storage of cocaine before it was further distributed.  Mexicano acknowledged that, up to approximately150 kilograms (approximately 330 pounds) of cocaine were stored at that property.  In August 2016, shortly before a search warrant was executed at the property, Mexicano admitted that he removed bulk U.S. currency and cocaine from the property.   Mexicano also admitted that, to further the conspiracy, he temporarily stored drug proceeds at a stash house before those proceeds were moved south from the Chicago area to Mexico.

The federal charges to which Mexicano has pleaded guilty carry a mandatory minimum ten year sentence and a maximum life sentence.  Mexicano is scheduled to be sentenced on October 19, 2018 before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel in San Diego.

Photo of Guns

Notwithstanding his guilty plea in San Diego, Mexicano still faces weapons charges in Kane County, Illinois (Case No. 17CF1720) related to the discovery of the weapons cache in Elgin, Illinois.  In addition to the live grenades, the weapons seized included fully automatic weapons, a submachine gun and others.  A photograph of the weapons, previously released by the Elgin Police Department (see Report #2016-59306), is attached.

In addition to Mexicano, other defendants who have entered guilty pleas in the case are: Walter Rovidio Ipina, aged 40; David Castaneda-Solis, aged 33; and Zachary Vasquez, aged 27.

Through his plea agreement, Ipina admitted that, during 2016, he moved the cocaine provided by El-99 that entered the United States 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 agents who seized the 32 kilograms (approximately 70 pounds) of cocaine that he was then carrying.  Ipina is scheduled for sentencing on August 3, 2018 before Judge Curiel. 

Castaneda-Solis pleaded guilty to laundering the 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.  The $154,000 was seized by law enforcement.  Castaneda-Solis admitted that he placed these proceeds into a black bag to enable their further transport to their ultimate destination in Mexico.  Castaneda-Solis is scheduled for sentencing on October 4, 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 and the cocaine the load driver was then transporting was seized.  Vasquez admitted that his activity involved more than 125 kilograms, but less than 150 kilograms (between approximately 275 and 330 pounds) of cocaine.  Vasquez is scheduled for sentencing on September 13, 2018.

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


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.


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

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






Assistant U. S. Attorney Larry Casper (619) 546-6734

Updated August 1, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: CAS18-0731-Mexicano