Vallejo-Based Rappers Arrested as Part of Major Investigation of Alleged Drug Trafficking Throughout the United States

April 25, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 24, 2012 released the following:

“SACRAMENTO, CA—A number of arrests have occurred in a major federal investigation into drug trafficking throughout the country, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, agents arrested a total of 25 individuals in Vallejo, Stockton, Fairfield, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, and Oklahoma City. Some of those arrested are Vallejo-based rappers and associates of an entertainment label known as Thizz Entertainment.

Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini stated, “This is another example of partnership that exists between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Vallejo Police Department to improve the safety of our community and reduce the level of violence associated with drug dealing. We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California in coordinating the investigation and prosecuting the persons involved in such a complex and dangerous criminal enterprise.”

During the investigation, agents seized approximately 45,000 MDMA pills, approximately four pounds of crack cocaine, a half-pound of heroin, and $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds. Agents also forfeited 230 acres of property valued at approximately $1 million as part of the investigation. As part of last Thursday’s takedown, agents executed three federal search warrants and seized approximately five pounds of marijuana, a loaded firearm, a 2010 Audi A6 with an estimated value of $60,000, and an Audi S5 with an estimated value of $50,000. Agents seized $67,238 in Vallejo and $6,831 in Sacramento for a total of $74,069 during the service of the federal search warrants.

According to the criminal complaints, the DEA-led investigation uncovered a network of drug distributors working in the Crest neighborhood of Vallejo, along with individuals transporting large quantities of drugs outside of California to realize a larger profit. A number of the subjects of the investigation performed as rappers under the entertainment label known as Thizz Entertainment. The origins of Thizz Entertainment can be traced back to the notorious Vallejo-based robbery crews known as the Romper Room Gang. The primary activities of the Romper Room Gang included armed bank robberies, drug trafficking, and murder. The Romper Room Gang was active throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. However, as a result of Vallejo police investigations with the assistance from federal law enforcement, many Romper Room Gang members were convicted of federal crimes and incarcerated for several years in the state and federal prison systems.

Some of the individuals charged in the criminal complaint are alleged to be former members of the Romper Room Gang. According to the complaint, Thizz Entertainment started in 1999 as a record label promoting and producing rap artists from the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily from the Crest neighborhood of their hometown of Vallejo. The name Thizz Entertainment originates from the term “thizz,” which is slang for the drug MDMA (also known as ecstasy). In many songs by artists on the Thizz Entertainment label, the lyrics glorify and promote the use and distribution of MDMA pills.

The complaint alleges that the targets of this investigation engaged in large-scale drug trafficking while also releasing rap albums under the Thizz Entertainment label. During the conspiracy, agents uncovered trafficking of MDMA, cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, Oxycodone, and marijuana, in violation of federal law. The complaint details drug shipments sent from the Vallejo area to Oklahoma City; Jamaica; Queens, New York; Atlanta; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The following individuals were charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking in the two federal criminal complaints:

Michael Lott, performs under the name “Miami the Most”

*Major Norton, performs under the name “Dubee”

*Lawrence Kennedy Nelson

Gaylord Franklin, performs under the name “Geezy”

Clifford Bullock

*Narco McFarland, Sr.

Latroy Cunningham

*Eric Robinson

Dante Barbarin

*Eileen Knight

Beshiba Cook

Bruce Thurmon, performs under the name “Little Bruce”

Damian Peterson

Mikel Brown

**Nicholas Ramirez

*Ung Duong

*Phat Nguyen

*Marcus Davis

**Tiffany Brown

Andre Cawthorne

*Michael Smiley

*Anthony Young

*Anthony Payton

*Arrested and detained in custody except where noted released.

**Arrested and released.

A preliminary hearing has been set for May 4, 2012.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the DEA Sacramento District Office, the Vallejo Police Department, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sacramento FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Jason Hitt is prosecuting the case.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

When prosecuted in federal court, drug traffickers typically receive much harsher sentences. In addition to the longer sentences imposed, unlike state court prisoners who are released early on parole, there is no early release on parole in the federal system.

The charges are only allegations. Each of the defendants listed is presumed innocent, unless and until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Seizes 245 Kilograms of Cocaine, Arrests Two

February 11, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 10, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR—The U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, along with the heads of the agencies that compose the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) announced today the seizure of approximately 119 bricks of cocaine with an estimate weight of 245 kilograms and an approximate street value of $4.9 million; and the arrest of two U.S. citizens for illegal importation of narcotics.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, a Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious white fiberglass twin outboard center console vessel traveling eastbound towards Puerto Rico with two persons on board.

A second suspicious vessel; described as a single engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats; was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound towards the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.

A CBP marine interceptor was launched to intercept the vessel reaching it at approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera in the southwestern coast of the island. Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel was instructed to set course to the Mayaguez Marine Unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP’s field operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine during a field drug test.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation.

Those arrested, the brothers Elvis Aviles Vega, 46, and Alberto Aviles, 47, were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They will have the initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.

“We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and try to smuggle and transport illegal contraband in our jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

CCSF is an initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and PRPD’s FURA.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Jose Capo Iriarte.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Indictment Charges 15 Men from Albuquerque and Edgewood with Alleged Drug Trafficking and Financial Crimes

January 29, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 27, 2012 released the following:

“ALBUQUERQUE—A 29—count federal indictment charging 15 men from Albuquerque and Edgewood, N.M., with drug trafficking, money laundering, and currency structuring charges was unsealed late yesterday afternoon, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales; Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS).

The indictment is the result of a multi-agency investigation into a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the Albuquerque metropolitan area that was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program. OCDETF is a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

Yesterday, a team of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers arrested nine of the 15 defendants named in the indictment, and executed 10 search warrants at residences in Albuquerque and a ranch in Edgewood. Those arrested include Steve Chavez, 32, a fireman with the Albuquerque Fire Department. Two other defendants, Jesus Ramos Castillo, 29, and Gabriel Guerra-Gonzalez, 27, both Mexican nationals, are in state custody on pending local charges; they will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment. The defendants arrested yesterday are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Albuquerque this morning.

Four defendants, Homero Varela, 29, Manuel Villa-Mayorquin, 23, and Procoro Noberto-Alvarez, 28, Mexican nationals, and Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., 25, of Edgewood, have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives.

The indictment alleges that, between May 2011 and January 2012, all 15 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Each defendant also is charged with using communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking crimes (sometimes referred to as “phone counts”), and Homero Varela is charged with distributing methamphetamine on three separate occasions over a three month period. The maximum penalties for a conviction on the conspiracy charge and each of the three methamphetamine distribution charges is a minimum 10 years’ to a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine, and the maximum penalty for a conviction on each of the phone counts is four years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also charges Homero Varela, Roy Madrid, 21, of Albuquerque, and Manuel Villa-Mayorquin with conspiracy to launder money. Homero Varela is further charged with an additional count of money laundering involving drug proceeds. A conviction on the money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment, and a conviction on the substantive money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., is charged with seven counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid certain reporting requirements for an aggregate of $166,300 through 24 transactions between April 2009 and August 2011. Steve Chavez is charged with structuring an aggregate of $348,500 in 37 transactions between July 1, 2011 and August 25, 2011. The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of property constituting, or derived from proceeds obtained directly, or indirectly, from the defendants’ illegal drug trafficking and financial crimes, including three Albuquerque residences owned, occupied or in the possession of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzalez, Sr., and Steve Chavez, respectively, and a ranch in Edgewood owned by Ramon Gonzalez, Sr. It also seeks forfeiture of funds in numerous bank accounts in the names of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzales, Sr., Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., Andres Gonzalez and Steve Chavez, as well as a money judgment of at least $15,000,000, the amount of money allegedly derived or involved in the offenses alleged in the indictment.

During yesterday’s law enforcement operation, officers seized a half kilogram of cocaine, more than 10 pounds of high grade marijuana, approximately $25,000 in cash, 20 vehicles, seven handguns, nine rifles, and two shotguns.

In announcing yesterday’s arrests, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “The charges in this indictment are some of the most significant drug and money laundering charges ever filed in the District of New Mexico. The investigation that led to this indictment exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation that we are fortunate to experience here in New Mexico. Federal, state and local officers worked long and hard and side-by-side in a coordinated effort to arrest numerous individuals charged in the indictment. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

“The Varela organization has been responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine in central and north central New Mexico,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arabit. “DEA and our federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement partners have worked hand-in-hand to disrupt this organization from its roots, culminating in the indictment of 15 of its members of which 11 are in custody and the seizure of their drugs and assets, including 20 vehicles, 18 weapons, cash, and real property. Through these enforcement actions, we are making our communities safer.”

“These significant investigations and arrests would not have been possible without the joint efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, led by the DEA, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Forces in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and numerous other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the region, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lee. “We all share the same goal: stop criminal enterprises that profit from the illegal trade of dangerous drugs and take away any financial benefit they receive from their crimes. The Albuquerque FBI will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement and community partners to rid our rural and urban areas of drug traffickers and other criminals and help make New Mexico and our nation a safer place to live.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge Mertz stated, “This indictment once again reflects the successful merging of law enforcement personnel, who work together through the task force, providing their specific skills, with the common purpose of ferreting out potential nefarious narcotics and related financial crimes. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate those individuals who ignore the laws of our country for financial gain.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve Swainston and Samuel L. Hurtado, and was investigated by DEA, FBI, and IRS with support from the New Mexico State Police, the Albuquerque Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Corrales Police Department. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Air Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Police Division, and the Region II HIDTA Task Force participated in yesterday’s law enforcement operation.

Charges in indictments are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Eleven People Indicted for Alleged Drug Trafficking

January 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 25, 2012 released the following:

“POCATELLO— A federal grand jury in Pocatello on Tuesday returned an indictment charging 11 people with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson. Four defendants were arrested earlier today; six others currently in state custody will be transferred into federal custody tomorrow.

The defendants named in the indictment are Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, 25, and Fabiola Esmerelda Marin-Castro, 24, of Rexburg, Idaho; Guadalupe Meraz, 40, of Medara, California; Ana Rosa Valdez-Ceja, 25, Juan Ortiz, Jr., 27, and Antonio Javier Mendoza, 27, of Shelly, Idaho; Isidoro David Herrera, 30, Daniel Quiroz, 24, Everado Tapia Torres, Jr., 29, Ricardo Garcia Lopez, 34, and Nicolas Levi Olsen, 28, of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Nevarez-Ayon, Torres, Olsen, Valdez-Ceja, Mendoza, Quiroz, Herrera, Ortiz, Marin-Castro, and Meraz are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush. An arrest warrant has been issued for Lopez, who is considered a fugitive.

Federal drug trafficking charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $8 million, and a minimum term of five years of supervised release.

The charges are the result of a nine-month investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), including the Idaho State Police, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Rexburg Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


119 Individuals Charged in Three Countywide Law Enforcement Operations

January 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 25, 2012 released the following:

“Two Mexican Mafia Members and 117 San Diego County, California Street Gang Members and Associates with Ties to the Mexican Mafia Charged with Racketeering Conspiracy, Drug Trafficking Violations, and Firearms Offenses

119 Individuals Charged in Three Countywide Law Enforcement Operations

SAN DIEGO—A federal grand jury in San Diego has handed up 17 indictments and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California has filed eight criminal complaints charging a total of 119 defendants with federal racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking violations, and federal firearm offenses, announced U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy.

U.S. Attorney Duffy said, “The cases unsealed today make communities stronger and safer. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to an anti-gang, anti-violence strategy built on close coordination between federal, state and local officials. This coordination provides better intelligence about street gangs and violent crime within our communities. And better intelligence means better law enforcement and prosecutions.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented, “Today’s arrests mark one of the largest single takedowns in San Diego FBI history. The FBI and our law enforcement partners stand unified in our efforts to protect this county from the violence, drug trafficking and extortion schemes employed by the Mexican Mafia and its affiliates. San Diego is inherently safer today because of the cooperation between our agencies working together to disrupt and dismantle the criminal activities of these dangerous individuals.”

“This is a traditional case of dishonor amongst thieves,” commented San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. “Gangs were made to pay ‘taxes’ in order to facilitate their trafficking and violent behavior. We answered with a one-two punch: a strong and experienced multi-agency investigation, armed with the RICO statute. The results speak for themselves.”

The charges stem from three investigations entitled, “Operation Notorious County,” “Operation Carnalismo,” and “Operation 12-Step.”

“Operation Notorious County”

The indictments are the result of an 18-month-long investigation entitled, “Operation Notorious County,” led by the North County Regional Gang Task force. Eight indictments charging 51 individuals, including one charging 40 defendants with participating in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy were unsealed today. All five indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury sitting in San Diego on Jan. 19, 2012. The RICO conspiracy alleged in the indictment involves the commission of both state and federal crimes, including attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, money laundering, and drug trafficking violations. As set forth in the indictment, the defendants are members, associates and facilitators of violent street gangs operating primarily in north San Diego County under the auspices of the Mexican Mafia or “La Eme.” The gangs named in the indictment include the Diablos and West Side gangs, based in Escondido, Calif., as well as the Varrio San Marcos and the Varrio Fallbrook Locos. The individuals named in the indictment were involved in a long-standing criminal enterprise used to extort money by threat or violence. The money was then sent on to high-ranking members of the Mexican Mafia, including defendant Rudy Espudo. The indictment alleges that Espudo is a validated member of the Mexican Mafia who oversees their activities throughout much of northern San Diego County.

“Operation Carnalismo”

In “Operation Carnalismo,” led by the Violent Crime Task Force-Gang Group, a group of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents led by the FBI, five indictments charging 36 individuals were unsealed today. Eight defendants are charged in one indictment with a conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), violent crime in aid of racketeering (VCAR), distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin and criminal forfeiture. Four additional indictments, charging 28 defendants were also unsealed. These related indictments charge distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and criminal forfeiture. All five indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury sitting in San Diego on Jan. 24, 2012, and unsealed today. The RICO indictment charges the criminal enterprise was run by Mexican Mafia member Salvador Colabella. Colabella and his associates conspired to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, extorted and robbed others, and laundered drug-trafficking proceeds. Colabella and his associates collected the extortion payments through the threat of violence and the commission of violence. According to the indictment, the Mexican Mafia has about 200 members, but its reach extends to thousands of Hispanic street-gang members in Southern California. A Mexican Mafia member is the highest level one can attain in the Mexican Mafia. A member, also called “Brother” or “Carnal” or “Tio,” controls, exploits and profits from the criminal activity conducted by street-gang members and others. This control over the criminal activity is enforced through acts of violence or the threat of violence.

“Operation 12-Step”

This year-long investigation, known as “Operation 12-Step,” was led by the East County Regional Gang Task Force, a group of federal and state law enforcement led by the FBI and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Operation 12-Step focused on gang-related methamphetamine distribution activities in San Diego County. Today four indictments and eight complaints were unsealed charging 32 individuals with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. According to court records, individuals charged in this investigation belong to nine different criminal street gangs including Varrio Chula Vista, East Side Piru, Old Town National City, Shelltown, National City Locos, Imperial Beach Imperials, Paradise Hills, Varrio Encanto Locos and National City Block Boys. Between Feb. 22, 2011, and Dec. 13, 2011, law enforcement made more than 20 methamphetamine and heroin seizures in connection with this investigation. In addition, search warrants were executed at eight residences in San Diego; Spring Valley, Calif.; National City, Calif.; Imperial Beach, Calif.; and Chula Vista, Calif..

U.S. Attorney Duffy praised the coordinated effort of the law enforcement agencies of the Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, the East County and North County Regional Gang Task Forces under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the coordinated team effort culminating in the charges filed in these cases. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against major drug trafficking.

The cases are being investigated by the FBI, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the National City, Calif., Police Department; the San Diego Police Department; the Escondido, Calif., Police Department; the Carlsbad, Calif., Police Department; the U.S. Marshals Service; the La Mesa, Calif., Police Department; the El Cajon, Calif., Police Department; the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; the U.S. Bureau of Prisons; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the San Diego County Probation Department; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; and Customs and Border Protection-United States Border Patrol.

The cases are being prosecuted in San Diego federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Mazza, Jaime Parks, Fred Sheppard and Tara McGrath.

An indictment or a complaint are not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Six Additional Defendants Charged in “Operation Prairie Eagle”

September 30, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“PEORIA, IL—A federal grand jury has returned indictments against six additional defendants as a result of “Operation Prairie Eagle,” a cooperative investigation targeting distribution of crack cocaine and marijuana in the Bloomington-Normal area. Fifteen defendants were previously indicted in May 2011.

The charges are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Springfield Division and the Normal Police Department, with assistance provided by the Bloomington Police Department, the McLean County Sheriff’s Office, the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.

Four defendants, Richard George Martin, 32, of Bloomington, Ill.; Shane C. Crawford, 30, of Streator, Ill.; Chad Joseph Graff, 35, also of Streator; and Alex William Guhlstorf, 39, of Normal, are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana. The one-count indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to the present and involved more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment also seeks criminal forfeiture of Martin’s bank accounts and cash totaling approximately $107,059.

If convicted, the statutory mandatory minimum penalty for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana is 10 years to life in prison. If a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 20 years to life in prison. With two or more prior felony drug convictions, the statutory penalty is life in prison.

In a separate indictment, Kelsie Linea Thirtyacre, 26, currently of Las Vegas, previously of Springfield, Ill., and Julie Lynn Foster, 32, of Cicero, Ill., are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2001 and continued to Apr. 5, 2011, and involved more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. The women also each face three additional charges of using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted, conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to life in prison; if a defendant has one or more prior felony drug convictions, the mandatory minimum penalty is 10 years to life in prison. For using a telephone in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, the penalty is up to four years in prison.

The two indictments were returned yesterday; however, the charges had remained sealed pending the defendants’ arrests and court appearances today. Crawford, Graff, Guhlstorf, and Foster were arrested this morning and appeared in federal court in Peoria this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman. All were detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending hearings scheduled next week. Foster’s next hearing date is Oct. 6; hearings for Crawford, Graff and Guhlstorf are scheduled on Oct. 7. Martin, who is currently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, will appear at a later date. Thirtyacre was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Las Vegas.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Daniel Barrera-Barrera, Javier Fernandez-Barrero, and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero Indicted in a Superseding Indictment on Federal Drugs Charges

September 14, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 12, 2011 released the following:

“Three High-Level Colombian Narcotics Traffickers Indicted

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), announced the unsealing of a superseding indictment against Daniel Barrera-Barrera, 42, a/k/a “Loco Barrera,” Javier Fernandez-Barrero, 43, and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero, 45, both collectively known as “Los Gorditos.” Two of the three were arrested; Barrera-Barrera remains at large. Colombian officials recently announced a $2.7 million reward for the capture of Daniel Barrera-Barrera, whom Colombian authorities describe as one the “most wanted” individuals n Colombia.

The superseding indictment alleges that the three defendants conspired to manufacture and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine knowing that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States. The superseding indictment also charges that Daniel Barrera-Barrera conspired to import cocaine into the United States. If convicted, the defendants each face a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

On February 11, 2011, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer announced the creation of the BACRIM prosecution unit within the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, specifically dedicated to dismantling emerging Bandas Criminales in Colombia. This is the first such unit in the United States specifically designed to target the emerging BACRIMs. The prosecution announced today is part of the BACRIM initiative. Including the defendants announced today, more than 100 BACRIM leaders and associates have been indicted by the Southern District of Florida. In addition, just last week, at a joint press conference in Colombia with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Attorney General Viviane Morales, Ferrer announced two additional BACRIM prosecutions: Operation Under the Sea and Operation Seven Trumpets, resulting in charges against 56 defendants in six separate federal cases.

“This indictment marks another success in our efforts to dismantle the emerging BACRIMs. It is the culmination of a significant long-term law enforcement investigation,” said United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “We will work tirelessly and commit our efforts to dismantling these narcotics trafficking organizations.”

“The arrests announced today exemplify coordinated, multi-national law enforcement efforts reaching into the highest levels of a drug trafficking organization’s leadership,” said Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge for DEA Miami Field Division. “The DEA will continue these joint efforts and maintain our sights on those who most damage our communities, whether from within or outside the geographic boundaries of the United States.”

“Drug kingpin Daniel Barrera-Barrera remains one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “His indictment, along with Javier and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero, has significantly disrupted their criminal enterprise which is responsible for distributing tons of cocaine into the U.S. and other countries.”

“Transnational Criminal Organizations are a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Miami. “The combined efforts of ICE Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners are designed to disrupt and dismantle these illicit organizations.”

On March 2, 2010, the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated Barrera-Barrera as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) due to his significant role in international narcotics trafficking. According to OFAC, Barrera-Barrera operates primarily in the eastern plains of Colombia, between Bogota and the Venezuelan border, and maintains a partnership with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), a narco-terrorist organization identified by the President as a kingpin pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2003.

The charges announced today are part of “Operation Splinter Cell,” an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation led by DEA. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Mr. Ferrer commends the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA, FBI and ICE-HSI, as well as the Colombian Fiscalia General and the Colombian National Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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