CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today, Ildiberto Gonzalez Jr., 29, of San Bernadino, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a quantity of methamphetamine and Keith Royal Goode-Harper, 32, of Charleston, pleaded guilty to use of a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking. Each admitted to his role in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) that operated in the Charleston area.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on March 18, 2023, Gonzalez delivered approximately 196 pounds of methamphetamine and four kilograms of cocaine to an individual in Bluefield, West Virginia, in exchange for a box that he believed contained $400,000. Gonzalez admitted that a co-conspirator in California provided the controlled substances in boxes and a bag that Gonzalez transported in his 2009 Freightliner semi-truck with attached trailer. Gonzalez further admitted he knew the boxes and bag contained a controlled substance but believed it was only cocaine.
Gonzalez communicated by cell phone with the co-conspirator, who directed him to a parking lot in Bluefield. There, Gonzalez gave the bag to another individual and loaded the boxes into the individual’s vehicle. Gonzalez admitted that the individual gave him a box that he believed contained the cash, and that he intended to deliver the money to the co-conspirator upon his return to California.
Gonzalez was driving away from the transaction in his semi-truck when law enforcement pulled him over. Gonzalez notified his co-conspirator by phone during the traffic stop. Officers seized his cell phone and a loaded 9mm pistol that Gonzalez also had in the truck’s cab.
Gonzalez admitted that he previously delivered boxes containing a controlled substance in approximately January 2023 from California to the individual in Bluefield at the direction of the co-conspirator. Gonzalez admitted he received cash for that transaction that he took back to California and gave to the co-conspirator.
On January 25, 2023, Goode-Harper obtained 7 ounces of methamphetamine from a co-defendant at the co-defendant’s residence in Charleston. Goode-Harper admitted that he arranged the purchase with the co-defendant in advance over a series of cell phone calls. Goode-Harper further admitted that he had asked to purchase 10 ounces of methamphetamine for a customer, but that the co-defendant told him that he only had 7 ounces of methamphetamine available.
Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced on January 4, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, at least three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $1 million fine. Goode-Harper is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of four years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
Gonzalez and Goode-Harper 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.
Twenty-one of the defendants 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 Nos. 1:23-cr-32 (Gonzalez) and 2:23-cr-135 (Goode-Harper).