Thirteen Arrested Wednesday in Operation Targeting Methamphetamine and Heroin Distribution in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY - Thirteen arrests were made Wednesday as a part of a federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case targeting the distribution of methamphetamine and heroin in Utah by alleged members of the La Raza gang and their associates.
The individuals are charged in two indictments unsealed Wednesday and Thursday with distribution of methamphetamine and heroin; conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin; possession of methamphetamine and heroin with intent to distribute; and money laundering.
During the execution of the arrests and searches Wednesday, law enforcement officers seized approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin, seven firearms, eight vehicles, and approximately $175,000 in cash.
Several local and state agencies contributed to the joint operation including the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, IRS Criminal Investigation, Salt Lake City, West Valley, Sandy, and West Jordan police departments, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Unified Police Department, the Metro Gang Unit, and the Utah Department of Public Safety. Several other agencies assisted in executing arrest and search warrants Wednesday in the Salt Lake metro area, Richfield, and St. George, including the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, Utah and Sevier County Sheriffs’ Offices, St. George, Spanish Fork and Richfield police departments, the Utah Highway Patrol, the Washington County Drug Task Force, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors involved in this case say it is part of a coordinated effort to combat an increasing threat to the safety of Utah communities from the involvement of gangs in drug trafficking. Gang involvement in the retail drug trade poses a risk to communities because distribution activities are routinely associated with violence as disputes over control of drug territory and enforcement of drug debts occurs.
Juan Lazareno, age 30, of Santa Clara, and an individual identified as FNU LNU (first name unknown – last name unknown) are charged with distribution of methamphetamine in an indictment unsealed in St. George Wednesday. Lazareno was arrested Wednesday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Braithwaite. He is being detained pending a detention hearing to be scheduled later. The potential maximum penalty for the charge is life in prison with a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence.
Thirteen individuals are charged in the second indictment, unsealed Thursday morning in federal court in Salt Lake City. They are Wayne LeRoy Burr aka Miclo, age 30, of Draper; Samuel Covarrubias-Velazquez aka Pollo, age 36, of West Valley City; Javier Corrales, age 34, of Provo; Juan Reveles, age 35, of Richfield; David Miramontes, age 28, of West Valley City; Anthony Pedroza, age 26, of West Valley City; Carlos Tenengueno, age 24, of Sandy; Jose Munoz, age 26, of Salt Lake City; Beatriz Miramontes, age 56, of Richfield; Elisa Gallardo, age 27, of Draper; Guillermo Miramontes, age 22, of Salt Lake City; and William Reveles, age 34, of West Valley City. Alejandro Arciniega-Zetin, age 24, of Salt Lake City has not been arrested.
Burr and Covarrubias-Velazquez are charged in the first two counts of the indictment with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin. The indictment alleges that beginning at least by May 1, 2013, and continuing until at least Jan. 21, 2014, the pair conspired to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and one kilogram or more of a substance containing a detectable amount of heroin. The majority of the 31-counts in the indictment charge defendants with distribution of methamphetamine; possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; distribution of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute; and money laundering.
There are 25 drug trafficking counts in the indictment. Each of them, with the exception of counts 14, 15, 20 and 21, has a potential life sentence with a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. Counts 14, 15, 20 and 21 have potential 40-year sentences with five-year minimum mandatory sentences.
Six money laundering counts in the indictment allege defendants purchased vehicles using cash derived from drug trafficking. The money laundering counts carry potential 10-year sentences.
Individuals charged in this indictment had initial appearances Thursday in federal court in Salt Lake City. Elisa Gallardo was released following her initial appearance. Detention hearings for the other defendants are under way Friday morning in U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells’ courtroom.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.