Grand Jury Returns Indictment Charging 24 Individuals with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine; Indictment Follows Joint Investigations Targeting Drugs, Gangs
17 Firearms, 41 Pounds of Meth Seized During Operation
SALT LAKE CITY – A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City returned a 13-count indictment Wednesday afternoon charging 24 individuals with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine following joint Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operations conducted by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and the DEA.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian S. Besser and FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric K. Barnhart announced the indictment Friday morning.
Assisting with the investigations were the Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Sandy, and West Jordan police departments and the Utah Department of Public Safety, who participate as members of the FBI’s Safe Street Task Force; the Unified Police Department and the Metro Gang Unit; the Murray Police Department, the U.S. Marshals, the ATF, and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The indictment also includes four counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, four counts of distribution of methamphetamine, three counts of felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of possession of an unregistered firearm. Law enforcement officers seized 41 pounds of methamphetamine during the investigation and 17 firearms, including 13 firearms and assorted ammunition from one defendant who is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm after a felony conviction.
Charged in the indictment are Raul Enrique Lizarraga Lopez (aka Maestro), Silvio McKenzie-Gainza, Cesar Gutierrez, Melissa Delgado, Ciro Santamaria-Zepeda, Makasini Lomu (aka Maka), Siosifina Ositamani (aka Fina Halai), Sompheth Thaodara (aka Diamond), Michael Shane Tisdale, David Tyson Madden, Man Tat Le (aka Asian Le), Gary Bronson Dean (aka Gary Dean Bronson), Timote Fangupo (aka Double Barrel), Mario Cerna (aka Havoc), Morgan Harris (aka Ace), Brandon Callaway, Cerina Gutierrez, Jon Martinez (aka Droopy), Greg Montoya, Jake Duran (aka Troublez), Jeremy Najera, Justin Dahlquist, Linda Sosa, and Steven Trujillo. (See the attached sheet for specific information on each defendant.)
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Defendants charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Two complaints were filed in the case prior to the return of this week’s indictment leading to the arrest of 18 of the defendants. Federal arrest warrants have been issued for Delgado, Santamaria-Zepeda, Fangupo, Cerna, Harris, and Najera, but they are not in federal custody at this time. Fangupo is in state custody on unrelated charges. Seventeen of those arrested remain in custody. Sosa has been released on supervised release conditions.
The first complaint, U.S. v McKenzie-Gainza, et al, involves an extensive strategic investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. Over the course of the investigation, agents acquired evidence establishing what the charges allege was a large-scale methamphetamine distribution organization in Salt Lake County. Through court-authorized investigative techniques, agents identified the distributors of multiple-pound quantities of methamphetamine. Agents learned that these distributors had a source of supply in California, and that they were expecting a large delivery of methamphetamine over the weekend of May 12-13, 2017.
The second complaint, U.S. v Calloway, et al, involves of a number of undercover narcotics purchases within a strategic investigation by the DEA and local law enforcement partner agencies. During this long-term investigation, agents purchased approximately 4 ¼ pounds of methamphetamine from several individuals in and around Salt Lake City. Through exhaustive analysis of evidence acquired with court authorization, agents determined the extent of the methamphetamine distribution conspiracy and identified numerous individuals as part of that conspiracy. Subsequently, agents also learned that these individuals were being supplied by the same California narcotics source as those involved in the FBI investigation.
At that point, these two separate efforts merged into one large-scale conspiracy investigation conducted by both the FBI and the DEA and their partners. During the weekend of May 12-15, 2017, agents and law enforcement officers executed a number of federal search warrants resulting in the seizure of 38 pounds of methamphetamine and 17 firearms.