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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of West Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Three more defendants plead guilty for roles in California-to-West Virginia drug conspiracy

Los Angeles father and son each face up to 40 years; Mexican national faces up to 5 years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Three defendants pleaded guilty today for their roles in a California-to-West Virginia methamphetamine conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Rafael Garcia Serrato, 45, and Cesar Garcia, 20, a father and son from Los Angeles, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Marco Antonio Bojorquez-Rojas, 21, a Mexican national residing in California, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime.

Serrato and Garcia admitted that in March 2016, they, along with other codefendants, arranged to transport five pounds of methamphetamine from California to West Virginia. Serrato and Garcia further admitted that they packed a vehicle with the drugs. Serrato and Garcia also admitted that they maintained telephone contact with the vehicle as it traveled to West Virginia to keep apprised of the progress of the drug delivery. Garcia admitted that on March 25, 2016, he flew from Los Angeles to Huntington to collect money for the drugs being delivered to West Virginia. On March 26, 2016, law enforcement stopped the vehicle transporting the methamphetamine in South Charleston and recovered the drugs.

Bojorquez-Rojas admitted that in January 2016, he traveled with some of his codefendants to Charleston from California to collect money for methamphetamine that had been delivered to West Virginia. On January 11, 2016, law enforcement executed a search warrant on a hotel room where Bojorquez-Rojas and some his codefendants, including Serrato and Garcia, were staying and recovered a bag containing $12,000 cash. Bojorquez-Rojas also admitted that this cash was payment for a portion of the methamphetamine that had been delivered to West Virginia. Bojorquez-Rojas additionally admitted that in March 2016, he traveled from California to Huntington to collect money for methamphetamine that had been driven to Huntington by codefendants Kelly Newcomb and Cara Linn Monasmith. Shortly after the arrival of Bojorquez-Rojas in Huntington on March 19, 2016, law enforcement arrested him and three of his codefendants in a Huntington hotel room.

Serrato and Garcia face at least five and up to 40 years in federal prison when they are sentenced on December 6, 2016. Bojorquez-Rojas faces up to five years in federal prison when he is sentenced on December 7, 2016.

This prosecution is the result of a multi-agency investigation that led to an eight-count indictment implicating 14 defendants, including Serrato, Garcia, and Bojorquez-Rojas. All of their codefendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. As part of this conspiracy, Daniel Ortiz-Rivera, a Mexican national, and Velarian Sylvester Carter, of Beckley, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Ortiz-Rivera is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, 2016. Carter is scheduled to be sentenced on October 13, 2016. Additionally, three women who were used as mules to transport methamphetamine, Danielle Dessaray Estrada, of Los Angeles, Kelly Newcomb, of Nevada, and Cara Linn Monasmith, also of Nevada, pleaded guilty to interstate travel in furtherance of a drug crime. Estrada and Newcomb are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2016. Monasmith is scheduled to be sentenced on November 8, 2016.

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Charleston Police Department, and the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald is in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.

This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.

Updated August 25, 2016