Multi-Year Investigation Leads to Indictment of 26 Defendants and Seizure of Nearly 500,000 Counterfeit Pills Laced with Fentanyl
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California
Assistant U. S. Attorney Owen Roth (619) 546-7710 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shauna R. Prewitt (619) 546-7937
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – June 14, 2022
SAN DIEGO – A two-year investigation has led to the indictment of 26 defendants for international drug smuggling, drug trafficking, and related conspiracy offenses. One of the defendants, Raul Barajas-Padilla, appeared in federal court yesterday for an initial appearance on the indictment.
So far, 17 defendants have been arrested. Efforts remain ongoing to apprehend the remaining defendants.
According to publicly filed documents, the Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation into a drug-trafficking conspiracy extending from Sinaloa, Mexico into the United States.
Agents identified Mexico-based traffickers who coordinated shipments of counterfeit pharmaceutical pills laced with fentanyl, powder fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States. These efforts yielded seizures of more than 478,000 counterfeit pharmaceutical pills laced with fentanyl, as well as about 51 kilograms of methamphetamine, 10 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of powder fentanyl, and 4 kilograms of heroin. Agents also seized about $230,000 in assets.
According to the indictment, DEA agents also identified the distributors in the U.S.; the couriers who were responsible for transporting drugs; the people who managed stash houses; the people who smuggled the illicit proceeds back to Mexico; and other dealers.
“This long-term investigation has resulted in the seizure of nearly half a million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills plus additional quantities of fentanyl in powder form,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “As fentanyl continues to fuel the ongoing opioid epidemic and claim ever more lives, we will use every available resource to find, apprehend, and hold accountable those who seek to profit from it, no matter where they are.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team as well as the DEA, HSI agents, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and supporting local, state, and federal partners who conducted this investigation for their excellent work on this case.
“Drug cartels, such as the Sinaloa cartel, are driving addiction and overdose deaths in the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Shelly S. Howe. “This extensive investigation demonstrates DEA’s resolve to hold drug dealers accountable for their destruction and to prevent massive amounts of fentanyl pills and other addictive drugs from being sold to our citizens.”
“The criminal investigation that led to this indictment is a great example of successful collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies determined to prevent illegal narcotics from entering our communities,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “HSI will continue working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who smuggle dangerous narcotics across our borders.”
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is actively partnering with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and the San Diego Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force (PDATF) to provide the community information and resources regarding fentanyl and naloxone. Resources include a recent recorded Town Hall titled Talk to Your Kids About Fentanyl, featuring 10 Ways to Protect our Kids from Fentanyl, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el09UaBc47U; a Community & Parent Fentanyl Toolkit, available at https://www.sdpdatf.org/community-resources; and information on how to obtain and learn to use lifesaving Naloxone, https://www.sdpdatf.org/naloxone.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 22-CR-863
Jose Refugio Vasquez, Jr. Age: 31 San Ysidro
Jaime Gutierrez Age: 48 El Cajon and Tijuana, MX
Jose Baudelio Garcia Age: 45 San Diego
Raul Osbaldo Perez Age: 28 San Ysidro and Tijuana, MX
Marvin Toms Age: 61 San Bernardino, CA
Andrew Acuna Age: 31 Chula Vista
Mario Hernandez Age:45 Chula Vista and Fresno, CA
Michael Perez-Lopez Age: 26 San Ysidro and Tijuana, MX
Jorge Paredes Age: 26 San Diego and Tijuana
Edgar Lopez, Jr. Age: 25 Tijuana, MX
Angel Gutierrez Age: 21 Lynwood, CA
Raul Barajas-Padilla Age: 21 San Diego
Oscar Daniel Munoz Gonzalez Age: 30 San Ysidro
Gabriel Jimenez-Aispuro Age: 31 San Diego
Edgar Cornejo Age: 26 San Diego
Andres Martinez Age: 25 San Ysidro
Oswaldo Marceleno-Cortez Age: 40 San Diego
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Controlled Substances Trafficking Conspiracy – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 846
Maximum penalty: Life in prison, mandatory minimum 10 years; $10 million fine
Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Distribute – Title 21, U.S.C., Section 841
Maximum penalty: Life in prison, mandatory minimum 10 years; and $10 million fine
Drug Enforcement Administration
Homeland Security Investigations
San Diego Sheriff’s 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 June 14, 2022
Press Release Number: CAS22-0614-Padilla