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Press Release

Federal Inmates and Others Involved in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced to Federal Prison

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

ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced the sentencings of four co-defendants involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy in the Western District of Louisiana. United States District Judge Dee D. Drell has sentenced the following defendants in this case:

Brian Jesus Garcia Pena, 34, a federal prison inmate, was sentenced to 235 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. This sentence will run consecutive to the federal prison sentence Pena is currently serving.

Isidro Chavarria, 42, a federal prison inmate, was sentenced in October 2023 to 120 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. This sentence will run consecutive to the federal prison sentence Chavarria is currently serving.

Darius Nelams, 38, of Springhill, Louisiana, was sentenced to 160 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Andres Ballesteros Medina, 45, of Springhill, Louisiana, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Law enforcement agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) began this investigation in 2021 after learning that Pena, a federal inmate incarcerated at the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, was coordinating a large scale drug distribution from inside the prison. Through their investigation, agents learned that Pena was using contraband phones smuggled into the prison in order to communicate with Cartel members and others involved in the conspiracy. In May and June of 2021, agents seized multiple pounds of methamphetamine that had been sent through the mail from California after Pena and his co-defendant, Salvador Bucio, who worked as a go-between, coordinated the purchase of the methamphetamine in Mexico.

In June 2021, Pena’s cell was searched, and two contraband phones were located. Agents located multiple messages on the phone with Pena coordinating drug deals, as well as CashApp payments from multiple individuals, including Bucio and a payment from the wife of Isidro Chavarria. Chavarria, another federal prison inmate at USP Pollock, was also communicating with his co-conspirators on contraband phones and in fact, was directing his wife and other parties to distribute methamphetamine that Pena was sending her.

In September 2021, law enforcement agents conducted a controlled delivery of packages containing large amounts of methamphetamine, which were sent by Andres Ballesteros Medina in California through the U.S. Postal Service to an address in Springhill. Agents observed Medina drop the package off at the Post Office in California and conducted surveillance in Springhill where they observed Nelams arrive to pick up the package at the address in Springhill and open it. Nelams then fled the scene and left behind his cell phone containing text messages indicating he would deliver the narcotics and photos of same. All of the above defendants pleaded guilty to the charges rather than going to trial.

Salvador Bucio, 34, from Washington, is the one remaining defendant in this case and he is currently a fugitive. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of Bucio should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or online at

The case was investigated by the FBI and USPIS and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Aaron Crawford.

The investigation and conviction of these defendants is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Updated March 15, 2024

Drug Trafficking