17 KC-Area Defendants Among 26 Indicted for $16 Million Drug-trafficking Conspiracy
Large Amounts of Meth, Cocaine, Heroin Smuggled from Mexico for Sale in KC Area
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 26 defendants have been indicted in a $16 million drug-trafficking conspiracy that involved smuggling large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico for distribution in the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area.
Operation Signed and Sealed was a two-year, multi-agency investigation into a drug-trafficking organization that sold over 700 pounds of methamphetamine, 250 kilograms of cocaine and multiple kilograms of heroin in the Kansas City metropolitan area, with an estimated total value of more than $16 million.
Jose Ramon Soto-Garcia, also known as “Monky,” “Mon,” and “Ramon Del Monte,” 27, Jesus Hernandez-Mujica, also known as “Chenton,” 32, Ricardo Hernandez-Mujica, also known as “Pollo,” 29, Maurio Belgrave, 31, Nefeg Isaac Aguilar-Valle, 27, Alejandro Salas, also known as “Oliver Echeverry-Flamenco” and “Panocha,” 30, Sergio Flores, 43, Sylvia Marron, 37, and Ivan Orion Rueda-Simental, 22, all of Kansas City, Mo.; Missael Guadalupe Soto-Vejar, also known as “Missa,” “Narizon,” and “Flaco,” 26, and Dennys Eliceo Sermeno-Campos, 27, both of Independence, Mo.; Aurelio Jimenez-Cimental, 31, Iriarte Tadeo-Soto, also known as “Tantan,” 24, Antonio Arroyo-Cardenas, also known as “Cholo,” 30, and Jose Gabriel Bernardo-Vasquez, 32, all of Kansas City, Kan.; Rosalia Avila, also known as “Rosalia Diaz” and “Rosalia Flores,” 27, of Overland Park, Kan.; Luis Miguel Lopez, also known as “Tito,” 29, of Shawnee, Kan.; Gilberto Castillo-Soto, 38, of Culiacan, Sinoloa, Mexico; Victor Manuel Castillo-Soto, 40, and Aurelia Castillo, 37, both of Van Nuys, Calif.; Jose Carlos Zazueta-Valenzuela, 26, Francisco Alvarado-Soto, 28, and Monica Soto-Garcia, 29, all of Sun Valley, Calif.; Frankie Eleazar Perez, 32, of Madera, Calif.; Oscar Alberto Lopez-Perez, 32, of Medellin, Colombia; and Myrna Nora Saenz, 33, address unknown, were charged in an 11-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury on Dec. 18, 2014. That indictment was unsealed and made public following the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.
Jose Soto-Garcia, Jesus Hernandez-Mujica, Ricardo Hernandez-Mujica, Rueda-Simental, Soto-Vejar, Jimenez-Cimental, Tadeo-Soto, Arroyo-Cardenas, Gilberto Castillo-Soto, Victor Castillo-Soto, Zazueta-Valenzuela, Alvarado-Soto and Monica Soto-Garcia are all citizens of Mexico. Aguilar-Valle is a citizen of Honduras. Sermeno-Campos is a citizen of El Salvador.
The federal indictment alleges that all 26 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, five kilograms or more of cocaine and one kilogram or more of heroin from June 2013 to June 2014.
According to the indictment, the drugs were transported from Mexico by Gilberto Castillo-Soto to California and then transported or shipped by his brother, Victor Castillo-Soto, and Zazueta-Valenzuela to Kansas City, Mo. Allegedly aiding in the California portion of the drug-trafficking operation were Monica Soto-Garcia (Zazueta-Valenzuela’s wife and Ramon Soto-Garcia’s sister), Aurelia Castillo (Victor Castillo-Soto’s wife) and Perez. In addition to transporting the drugs themselves, conspirators also paid couriers to deliver drugs to the Kansas City area.
The drugs arrived at the residences of co-conspirators, the indictment says, such as Aguilar-Valle, then were picked up by Ramon Soto-Garcia. Ramon Soto-Garcia, along with Missael Soto-Vejar, allegedly distributed the drugs to other members of the conspiracy, including Aurelio Jimenez-Cimental, brothers Jesus and Ricardo Hernandez-Mujica, Antonio Arroyo-Cardenas, Alejandro Salas, Dennys Sermeno-Campos, Jose Bernardo-Vasquez, Ivan Rueda-Simental and Iriarte Tadeo-Sosa. These individuals allegedly supplied drugs to their own customers. Because Ramon Soto-Garcia did not communicate well in English, the indictment says, he employed his girlfriend, Rosalia Avila, to help translate for him and also to transfer funds to pay for the narcotics.
The money from the drug sales was transferred back to California in a number of ways, according to the indictment, such as shipments in computer towers by Dennys Sermeno-Campos and the electronic transfer of funds by Rosalia Avila. Once in California, the indictment says, the money would be physically transported to Mexico by Francisco Alvarado-Soto.
For example, the indictment alleges that Dennys Sermeno-Campos attempted to ship $76,000 that had been wrapped in eight bundles in duct tape, carbon paper and dryer sheets and concealed within a hollowed-out computer tower from Raytown, Mo., to Sun Valley, Calif., on July 15, 2013. According to the indictment, federal agents also seized a total of approximately $180,000 that was similarly hidden in two computer towers on Sept. 10, 2013. They also seized $80,025 that was hidden inside a microwave oven on Sept. 17, 2013, and $70,000 that was hidden inside a CD player on Sept. 26, 2013.
The indictment also alleges that Aurelio Jimenez-Cimental arranged a meeting between an undercover law enforcement officer of the Jackson County Drug TaskForce and Oscar Lopez-Perez and Victor Castillo-Soto to discuss moving money to California. During that Oct. 4, 2013, meeting, Oscar Lopez-Perez and Victor Castillo-Soto allegedly attempted to give the undercover officer $350,000 to transport.
In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, several defendants are also charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. The indictment alleges that Jose Soto-Garcia, Gilberto Castillo-Soto, Victor Castillo-Soto, Jose Zazueta-Valenzuela, Missael Soto-Vejar, Oscar Lopez-Perez, Aurelio Jimenez-Cimental, Francisco Alvarado-Soto, Rosalia Avila, Dennys Sermeno-Campos and Aurelia Castillo participated in a conspiracy to conduct financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the unlawful drug-trafficking activity to promote the activity; these transactions allegedly were designed in whole or in part to conceal the nature, the location, the source, the ownership and the control of the proceeds.
In addition to the conspiracies, Jimenez-Cimental is charged with two counts of distributing cocaine, two counts of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of distributing heroin. Aguilar-Valle and Salas are also charged with one count of possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
Hernandez-Mujica is also charged with one count of possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and with one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
Aguilar-Valle is also charged with one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that Aguilar-Valle was in possession of a Taurus .45-caliber pistol on June 18, 2014.
The federal indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require all 26 defendants to forfeit to the government $16,017,200, which represents the proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged offenses.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Clark. It was investigated by the Jackson County Drug Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Kansas City, Mo, Police Department.