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Justice News

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Major Drug Traffickers With Ties To The Sinaloa Cartel Sentenced In West Michigan


Drug Dealers Sold Cocaine in West Michigan and Crystal Methamphetamine in Minnesota; Leader Gets 25 Years In Federal Prison

           GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Four men from California and five men from West Michigan have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a multi-state drug conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today. U.S. District Judge Robert J.
Jonker sentenced the group’s leader, Lucio M. Nunez, 32, of Mecca, California, to 25 years’ imprisonment.

           Court records show that Nunez and the California members of the conspiracy obtained 20-30 kilograms of cocaine from sources affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel and shipped it to the Michigan members of the conspiracy, who were led by Pablo G. Aguilera, 31, of Muskegon. The cocaine was typically hidden inside hollowed-out X-Box game consoles. The conspirators also concealed cocaine inside hidden vehicle compartments. Aguilera sold the cocaine in West Michigan and laundered the proceeds through various banks. Agents have identified $350,000 in drug proceeds, which they believe to be only a fraction of the total amount of money laundered by the conspiracy.

           At the same time they were sending cocaine to Michigan, Nunez and the California members of the conspiracy distributed 20-30 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in Minnesota.

           The investigation began in February 2012, when officers with the West Michigan Enforcement Team (“WEMET”), a local narcotics team, caught Aguilera with a kilogram of cocaine. They worked closely with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) and Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) agents to build the case against the other members of the conspiracy, who were charged in August 2012 with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and money laundering.

           In total, nine members of the conspiracy pled guilty and received sentences from Judge Jonker:

  • Lucio M. Nunez, 32, of Mecca, California: 300 months’ imprisonment;
  • Jesus Joel Rios, aka “Chuy,” 30, of Mecca, California: 132 months’ imprisonment;
  • Pablo G. Aguilera, 31, of Muskegon, Michigan, 128 months’ imprisonment;
  • Tyree A. Brown, 40, of Muskegon, Michigan: 60 months’ imprisonment;
  • Bradley E. Hatcher, 39, of Muskegon, Michigan: 46 months’ imprisonment;
  • Adan V. Chaidez, 32, of Mecca, California: 36 months’ imprisonment;
  • Victor Aguilera, 23, of Muskegon, Michigan: 30 months’ imprisonment;
  • Mark Barnes, 23, of Muskegon, Michigan: 30 months’ imprisonment;
  • Mario Alberto Molina-Martinez, 39, of Coachella, California: 36 months’ imprisonment.

           Acting Special Agent in Charge William Hayes of the HSI Detroit Field Office said, “It’s this type of close, nationwide law enforcement liaison capability that gives Homeland Security Investigations unparalleled ability to dismantle drug trafficking organizations like the one involved in this case. The convictions and sentences in this case were a direct result of law enforcement coordination and field efforts by HSI, WEMET, and the DEA.”

           Officers and agents from WEMET, HSI and DEA investigated this case. They received assistance from the U.S. Postal Service and the Muskegon County Prosecutor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler handled the prosecution.


Updated April 15, 2015