Four drug-trafficking defendants found guilty in federal court
Sinaloa Drug Cartel members face up to life in prison at sentencing
Indianapolis-United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced today that four members of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel were found guilty in federal court after a ten-day trial before U. S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. All could spend the rest of their lives in the Bureau of Prisons.
“The flow of illicit drugs including heroin and methamphetamine into our district ruins lives and destroys families,” said Minkler. “These drugs fuel a great deal of the violent crime we face daily in our neighborhoods through murders, non-fatal shootings and robberies.”
Rafael Rojas-Reyes, 37, Indianapolis, was found guilty of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and distribution of methamphetamine.
Hector Saul Castro-Aguirre, 39, Nogales, Mexico, was found guilty of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
John Ramirez-Prado, 35, Houston, Texas, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Jose Manuel Carrillo-Tremillo, 41, Redding, Pennsylvania, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Evidence introduced at trial established that Castro-Aguirre, Rojas-Reyes, and Carrillo-Tremillo were members of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel. After other members of the Sinaloa Cartel smuggled methamphetamine and cocaine across the Mexican border, Castro-Aguirre coordinated the activities of drug couriers who transported drugs from Tucson, Arizona and Montebello, California to other cities in the United States for distribution. The cities that received controlled substances from Castro-Aguirre’s transportation network included the following: Indianapolis; Lufkin, Texas; Reading, Pennsylvania; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Queens, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. Rojas-Reyes was the leader of an Indianapolis-based methamphetamine and cocaine distribution cell for the Cartel and controlled the distribution of these substances in Indianapolis. Carrillo-Tremillo served as the leader of a cocaine distribution cell for the cartel based in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Federal prosecutors believe that these defendants were responsible for distributing approximately 200 pounds of methamphetamine and 20 kilograms of cocaine, with a retail value of over $2.2 million and a wholesale value of over $9 million in Indianapolis. The defendants were responsible for distributing an additional 28 pounds of methamphetamine and 390 kilograms of cocaine, with a retail value of over $12 million and a wholesale value of over $40 million in other areas of the United States. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement was able to seize over 90 pounds of methamphetamine, 12 kilograms of cocaine and $2.5 million in cash.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, IMPD, the Indianapolis Metro Drug Task Force, the Somerset County (New Jersey) Prosecutor’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Illinois State Police.
“Drug cartels feed on the addiction of Hoosiers who struggle with drug abuse,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge for DEA in Indiana Greg Westfall. “Those who continue to bring this poison into our neighborhoods should know, the DEA is watching and will bring the full force of federal law enforcement to bear.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute narcotic traffickers and other offenders to keep the communities in which we live a safer place,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Gabriel L. Grchan. “IRS CI has the financial investigators and expertise that is critical to locating and following the money which is a key component of this drug and money laundering conviction.”
“The proliferation of illegal drugs often leads to broken lives, distressed neighborhoods, and dejected communities often due to violence,” said Chief Bryan Roach. “The combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement are aiding communities, individuals, and neighborhoods restore some sense of normalcy and peace while holding those accused accountable.”
According to Senior Litigation Counsel Bradley A. Blackington, who prosecuted this case for the government, all defendants could face a lifetime of imprisonment at sentencing. Judge Pratt scheduled the sentencings for Castro-Aguirre and Rojas-Reyes for January 10, 2019, and the sentencings for Ramirez-Prado and Carrillo-Tremillo for January 11, 2019.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting transnational drug-trafficking organizations that threaten the Southern District of Indiana. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 3.1