Leader of Guatemalan Drug Trafficking Organization that Smuggled Multi-Ton Quantities of Drugs Sentenced to 17.5 Years
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 23, 2019
SAN DIEGO – Martin Gomez of California was sentenced in federal court today to 240 months in prison for leading a conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and cell phones through a Corrections Officer into a state prison.
Gomez had previously pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine pursuant to a plea agreement, after being indicted with 10 other co-conspirators.
One co-defendant, Juan Gutierrez, charged in the conspiracy remains awaiting trial, which is scheduled for January 21, 2020. The trial was continued from May 2019 after Gutierrez struck his own attorney in open court during a status hearing just prior to his trial.
From his cell in a California state prison in Los Angeles, Gomez organized and directed a group of at least 11 other participants to smuggle contraband into a different state prison, Richard J. Donovan (“RJD”), in San Diego. Gomez arranged for individuals outside of prison to deliver the drugs and cell phones to a Corrections Officer, Anibal Navarro. He then instructed Navarro to collect the contraband and money, and deliver the contraband to certain inmates inside the prison. Gomez directed those inmates to retrieve the contraband and deliver it to other inmates within RJD.
Gomez approached Navarro while an inmate at RJD, offering him an avenue to make extra money Gomez knew Navarro needed. Navarro was paid between $1,000 and $2,000 each time he smuggled the contraband into the prison. Even after Gomez was transferred out of RJD to another prison, Gomez led the conspiracy for over two years. Over 500 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, cell phones, and other contraband were smuggled into RJD at Gomez’s direction while he was incarcerated elsewhere.
Gomez was able to continue coordinating and supervising 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 Alvarado-Medina and Vanessa Jackson. These individuals provided Navarro with the narcotics and cellular telephones to smuggle into the prison.
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.
“This defendant personally profited from a corrupt drug smuggling scheme that significantly interfered with the rehabilitation of his fellow inmates,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. “He also created a dangerous prison environment by providing cell phones, which can result in drug trafficking, fraud, and even violence. This sentence signals that justice does not stop at the prison gate; those who engage in prison corruption will face significant consequences.”
With the exception of Gutierrez, Gomez’s codefendants have all pleaded guilty. They have been sentenced as follows.
Sylvia Gonzales was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Wire fraud, and sentenced to five years’ probation.
Everaldo Santana was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Wire Fraud, and sentenced to time-served, with three years’ supervised release.
Agustin Aceves was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, and sentenced to 151 months incarceration, to run 50% concurrent and 50% consecutive to his state case, followed by five years’ supervised release.
Norma Alvarado-Medina was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, and sentenced to 41 months, with three years’ supervised release to follow.
John Price was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Heroin, and was sentenced to 51 months incarceration, to run 50% concurrent and 50% consecutive with his state case, followed by four years’ supervised release.
Vanessa Jackson was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, and sentenced to 30 months, to be followed by four years of supervised release.
Hugo Alvarado was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Wire Fraud, and sentenced to 18 months to run concurrent with his state sentence, with three years of supervised release to follow.
Edgar Arreguin was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Honest Services Wire Fraud, and sentenced to time served with three years’ supervised release.
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 58 Lancaster Prison
SYLVIA GONZALES Age 59 Sylmar, California
EVERALDO SANTANA Age 27 Los Angeles, California
AGUSTIN ACEVES Age 45 Lancaster Prison
NORMA ALVARADO-MEDINA Age 36 Al Monte, California
JUAN GUTIERREZ Age 44 Vacaville, California
JOHN PRICE Age 23 Salinas Valley Prison
VANESSA JACKSON Age 42 Pasadena, California
JEREMY GAITHER Age 35 Valley State Prison
HUGO ALVARADO Age 27 High Desert Prison
EDGAR ARREGUIN Age 44 Lemon Grove, California
DEFENDANTS Case No. 16cr1664-AJB
ANIBAL NAVARRO Age 40 Chula Vista, California
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Distribute Illegal Narcotics – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 841(a) and 846
10-year mandatory minimum
Maximum penalty: Life in prison and $20,000,000 fine
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 – Inspector Service
*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 Andrew Young (619) 546-7981
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Sanniti (619) 546-8811