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Press Release

Operation Smoke and Mirrors Update: California-Based Supplier Pleads Guilty in Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization Case

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Alejandro Gallegos, also known as “Alex,” “Rooster,” “G” and “Primo,” 41, of Hacienda Heights, California, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. Gallegos admitted to a major supplier role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from in or about February 2021 to in or about March 2023, Gallegos conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine within the Southern District of West Virginia.

On March 18, 2023, Gallegos directed co-defendant Ildiberto Gonzalez Jr. to deliver approximately 196 pounds of methamphetamine and four kilograms of cocaine from California to Bluefield, West Virginia, in his 2009 Freightliner semi-truck with attached trailer. Gallegos arranged the shipment in exchange for approximately $400,000 with another co-conspirator in West Virginia. Gallegos arranged for Gonzalez and the West Virginia co-conspirator to meet in a particular parking lot in Bluefield on March 22, 2023. There, Gonzalez provided the controlled substances to the other individual in exchange for a box that Gonzalez believed contained the cash.

Gallegos is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10, 2024, and faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release, and a $10 million fine.

Gonzalez, 30, of San Bernadino, California, pleaded guilty on September 12, 2023, to conspiracy to distribute a quantity of methamphetamine and awaits sentencing.

Gallegos and Gonzalez are among 32 individuals indicted as a result of Operation Smoke and Mirrors, a major drug trafficking investigation that has yielded the largest methamphetamine seizure in West Virginia history. Law enforcement seized well over 400 pounds of methamphetamine as well as 40 pounds of cocaine, 3 pounds of fentanyl, 19 firearms and $935,000 in cash.

Gallegos and Gonzalez are also among 29 defendants who have pleaded guilty. Indictments against the other defendants are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (MDENT), the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia National Guard Counter Drug program, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Charleston Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh County Sheriff's Office. MDENT is composed of the Charleston Police Department, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Nitro Police Department, the St. Albans Police Department and the South Charleston Police Department.

Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe is prosecuting the case.

The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:23-cr-32. 




Updated July 17, 2024

Drug Trafficking