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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts California Man Of Cocaine Conspiracy

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

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal jury has convicted Raul Everado Ledesma Abarca, 36, of San Diego, California of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and maintaining a drug-involved premises. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine.   

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Adler and Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who are handling the prosecution of the case, stated that between September 2014 and September 2016, the defendant, along with co-defendant Armando Ernesto Abarca and others, conspired to possess and distribute cocaine. The defendants rented a storage unit in Amherst, NY, to store the cocaine. The unit was rented on the same day that a 104 kilogram shipment of cocaine arrived in Buffalo. A total of 43 kilograms of cocaine were discovered after the unit was purchased at an auction due to delinquent rent payments. The fingerprints of both the defendant and Armando Abarca were discovered on items in the unit. 

Prior to the discovery of the cocaine in Amherst, the Abarcas were investigated for cocaine trafficking in Ohio. The Government presented evidence at trial of the seizure of 55 kilograms of cocaine in Dayton, OH, in a vehicle registered to a Buffalo, NY address. Approximately half of the 55 kilograms was intended for the defendant’s distribution operation based out of Columbus, OH. 

Armando Ernesto Abarca, 22, of Modesto, California, was previously convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine, and sentenced to serve 168 months in prison.

The verdict is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, New York Field Office; and the Amherst Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Askey. Additional assistance was provided by ICE-HSI in Los Angeles, California; DEA in Columbus, OH; and DEA in Dayton, OH. 

Sentencing is scheduled for October 21, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford, who presided over the trial.

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Updated June 13, 2019

Drug Trafficking