California Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking
Fayetteville, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Larry Jesus Navarete, aka NICA, age 35, of Los Angeles, California was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in federal prison followed by 3 years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. The sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to a 38 year prison sentence that Navarete received in California in 2008 after conviction for Second Degree Robbery in Association with a Criminal Street Gang and False Imprisonment by Violence in Association with a Criminal Street Gang. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.
According to court records, in 2015 local law enforcement officers with the DEA drug task force began investigating a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking operation in Springdale and Rogers, Arkansas. In March, 2015, officers purchased seven grams of methamphetamine from a local distributor, Sebastian Garcia-Mojica. A search of Mojica’s apartment revealed boxes that had been shipped from an address in Los Angeles associated with Guadalupe Duran containing disfigured stuffed animals addressed to Esmeralda Quintana.
Upon further investigation, officers traveled to Quintana’s residence where they were greeted by co-conspirator Francisco Martinez-Guzman who consented to a search of the residence. Inside officers found one pound of methamphetamine and wire receipts that showed Quintana had wired Duran $1,300.00. A package coming from California to Quintana’s address was later intercepted and found to contain approximately two pounds of methamphetamine. These individuals were subsequently convicted and sentenced as follows: Guzman 120 months imprisonment, Duran 72 months imprisonment, Quintana 48 months imprisonment, and Mojica 41 months imprisonment.
Following the arrest of Mojica, Guzman, and Quintana information was received that Jaime Monge was distributing methamphetamine that he was receiving from the same source in California. After a series of controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Monge, officers received authorization for a wiretap of his phone. During the wiretap officers intercepted communications between Monge and an individual later identified as Navarete as well as several others. The investigation determined that Navarete was incarcerated in a California prison and was communicating with Monge from prison using a contraband cell phone. Court authorization was subsequently obtained to wiretap Navarete’s phone. Monge was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 120 months imprisonment.
Law enforcement officers in Arkansas were able to coordinate their investigation with an ongoing investigation of by the FBI, DEA and local law enforcement in California of MS-13 activities in California and throughout the United States. As a result of the investigation, Navarete and law enforcement was able to determine that Navarete was a member of the MS-13 and a leader of a clique within MS-13. MS-13 is transnational gang involved in drug trafficking and violence. The investigation revealed that Navarete’s role in the conspiracy was as a leader who arranged and directed shipments of methamphetamine to co-conspirators in Northwest Arkansas and other locations in the United States. The Arkansas investigation resulted in the seizure of more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine and the indictment of Navarete and 18 other individuals in the Western District of Arkansas and the indictment of several individuals in Oklahoma. The joint investigation also resulted in the indictment of numerous individuals in California.
In addition to those mentioned above, the investigation resulted in the indictment and conviction in the Western District of Arkansas of the following: Alejandro Zambrano-Trujillo, Jonas Aguirre-Zelada, Danny Orellana-Pindeda, Antonia Orellana-Pineda, Rigoberto Benavidez, Jose Lepe, Cinthia Banags-Ruiz, Amanda Olse, Corina Zepeda-Patino, Hado Zepeda-Garcia, Rosalio Laredo-Garcia, and Mario De Jesus Montoya –Perlera. These prosecutions have been carried out across the country and led to more than 91 years of total imprisonment.
“This investigation resulted in the dismantling of a significant drug trafficking organization with ties to MS-13 operating in Arkansas and Oklahoma.” said Kenneth Elser, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “This case is a model for law enforcement cooperation and would not have been possible without the countless hours of work put in by local and federal law enforcement and by Assistant United States Attorney Kim Harris. Their dedication to the mission of the Department of Justice has been tremendous and their determination to work together has ultimately made the Western District of Arkansas a safer place.”
“The drug enforcement administration stands ready, arm in arm, with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to combat violent drug trafficking organizations operating in Arkansas. This investigation is a prime example of the teamwork that all of these agencies put forth to rid Northwest Arkansas of these criminal organizations.” DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew Barden.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Rogers Police Department, the Springdale Police Department, the Fayetteville Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Kim Davis Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.
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Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @ www.pacer.gov