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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Fifteen Defendants Convicted As Part Of “Operation Ozark Express” Sentenced To Over 1,000 Months In Prison Combined For Methamphetamine Trafficking In Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; announced that on April 2, 2019, the final of fifteen (15) individuals were sentenced by the United States District Court for their roles in a methamphetamine trafficking ring which operated in Benton and Washington Counties in Arkansas and in additional jurisdictions such as California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Arizona and Mexico.  This investigation and prosecution operation lasted from approximately mid-2017 through today’s final sentencing hearing. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

 

According to court records, on July 24, 2018, a federal grand jury returned two Indictments containing a total of sixteen (16) counts against fifteen (15) individuals in the Northwest Arkansas area and beyond for activities in a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy.  This drug trafficking ring was responsible for the importation of multiple kilograms of methamphetamine into the Northwest Arkansas area from California and Mexico for local distribution. Once sold, bulk amounts of United States currency loaded in vehicles were driven back to Mexico as payment for the methamphetamine via the Laredo, Texas port of entry. The individuals were arrested in operations conducted by the DEA in conjunction with the Fayetteville and Springdale, Arkansas police departments on May 18, 2018.

 

Defendants in this conspiracy received the following sentences:

           

Pedro Zambrano, age 23, of Phoenix, Arizona was sentenced April 2, 2019 to 240 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. Zambrano was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 7, 2018. 

 

Alexis Rios-Tamayo age 21, of Phoenix, Arizona was sentenced January 22, 2019 to 41 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine.  Rios-Tamayo was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on August 10, 2018. 

           

Eduwijes Cervantes-Mendoza, age 58, a citizen of Mexico residing in Springdale, Arkansas was sentenced January 22, 2019 to 210 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine. Cervantes-Mendoza was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 7, 2018. 

           

Santana Gonzales-Aguirre, age 45, a citizen of Mexico residing in Bentonville, Arkansas was sentenced February 6, 2019 to 15 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute of Methamphetamine. Gonzales-Aguirre was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 7, 2018. 

 

Gregory Miranda, age 23, of Ventura, California was sentenced February 6, 2019 to 15 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Miranda was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 21, 2018. 

           

Michael Shannon Howard, age 52, of Green Forest, Arkansas was sentenced February 6, 2019 to 33 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Howard was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on July 16, 2018. 

 

John Paul Farias, age 39, of Springdale, Arkansas was sentenced February 6, 2019 to 121 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Farias was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 28, 2018. 

           

Miguel Saldana, age 24, of Boone County, Arkansas was sentenced April 1, 2019 to 120 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Saldana was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 28, 2018. 

           

Sarahi Flores-Quintero, age 22, of Phoenix, Arizona was sentenced February 5, 2019 to 40 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. Flores-Quintero was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 28, 2018. 

           

Victor Sanchez-Hernandez, age 47, a citizen of Mexico residing in Hindsville, Arkansas was sentenced February 5, 2019 to 240 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Methamphetamine. Sanchez-Hernandez was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on July 9, 2018. 

           

Jose Octavio Sanchez, age 21, of Hindsville, Arkansas was sentenced February 5, 2019 to 12 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm. Sanchez was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 28, 2018. 

           

Elizabeth Ramirez, age 30, of Springdale, Arkansas was sentenced February 5, 2019 to 44 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. Ramirez was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on June 25, 2018. 

           

Jesus “Don Chuey” Ramirez-Santoyo, age 63, of Tulsa, Oklahoma was sentenced February 5, 2019 to 48 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. Ramirez-Santoyo was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas in June 2018 and plead guilty on September 7, 2018. 

           

This prosecution was part of the Western District of Arkansas’ Operation Ozark Express, which is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy.  OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, 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 and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illicit drug supply.

 

This OCDETF case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Chicago, Illinois; the Springdale Police Department; the Fayetteville Police Department; the Arkansas State Police; the Arkansas National Guard Counter-Drug Unit; and the Department of Homeland Security in Phoenix, Arizona. Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Carter prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated April 2, 2019