Federal Judge Sentences Last Of National Drug Trafficking Ring Members In Custody
Federal Authorities Continue to Search for Remaining Charged Defendant
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN —Today, Hon. Robert Holmes Bell, District Court Judge of the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan, sentenced Carlos Ramirez-Zuniga to 70 months’ imprisonment. Ramirez-Zuniga was the final in-custody defendant out of five total to be charged in this case which arose from allegations that the defendant conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana obtained first in Texas, near the Mexican border, into Lansing, Michigan.
The filed indictment indicated that the leader of the conspiracy, Merced Alvarado, aka "Hector," aka "Machine," began distributing drugs into Michigan in 2001 and continued doing so until June of 2014, when members of Homeland Security Investigations and the Lansing Police Department conducted a search of the conspiracy’s Lansing stash house and discovered over 800 grams of cocaine and over $39,000. Information developed in the investigation indicated that the conspiracy obtained marijuana and later cocaine near Alvarado’s Mission, Texas home, and transported the drugs throughout the country in hallowed out drink coolers. The Indictment indicated that more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 kilograms of marijuana were involved. In total, nvestigators recovered over $150,000 in drug proceeds and over two kilograms of cocaine in the course of the investigation.
"We will continue to work with our federal and state partners to detect and bring to justice those drug traffickers seeking to move wholesale quantities of drugs into our state," stated U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles, "This case presents an excellent example of state and local cooperation in an investigation which ended a multistate drug conspiracy."
For his crime, the Court sentenced Alvarado, the recognized leader of the conspiracy, to 130 months’ imprisonment. Jonathan Galvan, a courier working for Alvarado delivering the drugs to Michigan and other states, received 48 months’ imprisonment. Elva Medrano, the Michigan resident who distributed drugs on Alvarado’s behalf, collected proceeds and maintained a home for the storage of the drugs in Michigan, received a sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment. Ramirez-Zuniga was Alvarado’s largest Lansing-based drug customer.
"These prison sentences are a testament to HSI’s commitment to aggressively investigating drug smuggling organizations and ending the violence they bring to our communities," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "We are committed to making our communities safer, and we will continue close collaboration with our law enforcement partners at every level to further that objective."
City of Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski added: "The results of this investigation is confirmation of the dedication of Law Enforcement to stop illegal narcotic distribution in our neighborhoods. The long term effects of this investigation will have a positive influence for the reduction of violent crime and quality of life in our local communities."
Investigators continue to seek information about the location of the final defendant, Raymundo Perea, another of Alvarado’s couriers who remains a fugitive, who is pictured below. Perea was last known to law enforcement to be in the area of Mission, Texas. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Perea should contact Homeland Security Investigations at (313) 226-0533. Of course, the charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.