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Press Release

Six Charged In Large Marijuana Drug Trafficking Operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

– Nearly 4,900 pounds of marijuana seized and $160,650 in U.S. currency recovered in New Albany, Indiana and Jefferson County, Kentucky homes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Six defendants living in Jefferson, Shelby and Bullitt Counties, Kentucky have been charged today, in United States District Court, as part of a drug trafficking operation, with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Raimundo Ramirez, Osvaldo Saldivar-Avila, Ricardo Saldivar-Avila, Jose Alfredo Escobar-Zavala, Jose Antonio Mora-Pizarro, Rafael Garcia-Garcia, were arrested yesterday and appeared in court this afternoon after being charged in a federal criminal complaint.

According to an affidavit, attached to the complaint, on the morning of May 16, 2013, agents observed Osvaldo Saldivar Avilla, Ricardo Saldivar Avilla, Jose Alfredo Escobar Zavala, and Osvaldo Saldivar Avila, at 906 Ulrich Avenue, in Louisville, KY. Almost immediately thereafter, a tractor trailer arrived and backed up to the rear bay door. The driver of this tractor trailer, later identified as Jose Antonio Mora Pizarro, was observed prepping the truck and watching inside the warehouse as pallets were being unloaded. On the pallets were multiple cardboard boxes labeled as cabbage and some pallets contained bags of onions. The tractor trailer was subsequently stopped by law enforcement and a drug detection dog indicated a positive alert for narcotics. The driver, Mora Pizarro, allegedly stated he was delivering cabbage and onions to Lexington, KY, and his log book showed he had been in Texas at 12:00 am on May 16, 2013.

A search warrant was obtained for 906 Ulrich Avenue where approximately 4,890 pounds of marijuana was found shrink wrapped inside cabbage boxes. Ricardo Saldivar Avilla, Jose Alfredo Escobar Zavala and Rafael Garcia were found unloading the suspected marijuana out of the cardboard boxes and arrested on site.

On March 14, 2013, the DEA Louisville District Office executed a federal search warrant at an alleged “stash house” being rented by defendant Raimundo Ramirez, on Jaycee Drive, located in New Albany, Indiana. Officers seized multiple heat sealers, unused heat sealing bags, multiple scales, drug ledgers, previously used heat sealed bags with numbers written on them, $160,650.00 U.S. Currency and a hand gun. The U.S. Currency was bundled with rubber bands and some of the currency, bundled in rubber bands, was further contained in heat sealed bags.

If convicted at trial, the defendants face a mandatory minimum of ten years up to life in prison, a fine of $10,000,000 and up to life of supervised release.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Hall and is being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Louisville Office and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Updated December 15, 2014