Forty-Three Defendants with Ties to a Drug Cartel in Mexico Charged with Racketeering (RICO) Conspiracy
2010-07-26 · By Editor
A criminal complaint was unsealed on Friday July 23, 2010, charging 43 defendants with participating in a federal racketeering (RICO) conspiracy. The RICO conspiracy alleged in the complaint involves the commission of both state and federal crimes, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, drug trafficking and money laundering offenses. As set forth in the complaint, the defendants are members and associates of the Fernando Sanchez Organization (FSO), an offshoot of the Arellano-Felix drug-trafficking cartel.
The complaint also alleges that Jesus Quiñones Marques, the Director of International Liaison for the Baja California Attorney General’s Office, was aware of the FSO’s illegal activities and used his position to obtain confidential law enforcement information for the use of the FSO. According to the complaint, he was involved in making arrangements to have various rivals of the FSO arrested and detained by Mexican law enforcement officials.
The charges stem from a long-term investigation, entitled “Operation Luz Verde” (green light), conducted by the multi-agency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force (CBVTF), which was formulated to target those individuals involved in organized crime-related violent activities affecting both the United States and Mexico. Law enforcement personnel assigned to the CBVTF made extensive use of court-authorized wiretaps and other sophisticated investigative techniques to develop the body of evidence that led to the charges in this case.
“The presence of foreign-based drug-trafficking organization members and associates in San Diego will not be tolerated. The San Diego law enforcement community leverages every asset to ensure that this fine city never becomes the safe haven from which drug-trafficking organizations stage their operations as drug wars and law enforcement scrutiny disrupt narco-business. These traffickers will simply not be allowed to walk our streets and live among our neighborhoods, and we will certainly not tolerate the seepage of drug-related violence in our communities. We are committed to disrupting their operations and will concentrate our efforts to stop them from committing their day-to-day criminal activities here,” said United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented, “Today’s arrests are the result of a long term multi-agency investigation. Dedicated personnel from agencies at all levels of government worked in unison to combat this dangerous and violent criminal enterprise. Today we are rewarded with dozens of arrests that truly have an impact on safety and well-being within our local communities.”
“The arrests made at the conclusion of this investigation illustrate the commitment of DEA and our law enforcement partners to dismantling these drug trafficking organizations at every level,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge. “The citizens of San Diego can feel safer today knowing that these violent offenders are off of our streets.”
“The San Diego Police Department is proud to have participated in such a successful operation. The message that San Diego law enforcement is sending to organized crime is clear: cross border violence and cartel activities will NOT be tolerated in the City of San Diego,” said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. “Any portion of a criminal enterprise that is planned, coordinated, or conducted in San Diego will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, maintaining San Diego as one of America’s safest cities for our citizens and visitors. Cartels should make no mistake: our business is to end their business.”
“ATF has participated in disrupting a violent criminal organization that was supplying the tools for Mexican cartels to kill law enforcement and innocent citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge John A. Torres of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “ATF’s mission is to prevent violent crime in this country and prevent illegal firearms from crossing into Mexico.”
The complaint (Case Number: 10MJ2489) charges the following defendants with Title 18, United States Code, Section 1962(d) and, if convicted, they face 20 years in prison:
- Armando Villareal Heredia, aka Gordo Age: 32 Guadalajara, Mexico
- Ruben Dario Castro Perez, aka Compadre Age: 35 Federal Custody
- Ivan Candelario Magana Heredia, aka Soldado Age: 33 Guadalajara, Mexico
- Jose Alfredo Najera Gil Age: 33 Tijuana, Mexico
- Carlos Cosme Age: 34 Chula Vista, CA
- Mario Escamilla, aka Unico Age: 29 State Custody
- Ignacio Escamilla Estrada, aka Uno Age: 49 Tijuana, Mexico
- Fausto Escamilla, aka Taliban Age: 25 Mexican Custody
- Edgar Gustavo Escamilla, aka Dies Age: 28 Mexican Custody
- Jesus Quinones Marquez, aka Rinon Age: 49 Tijuana, Mexico
- Jose Antonio Ortega Nuno Age: 44 Tijuana, Mexico
- Edgar Lopez De-Anda Daher, aka Pollito Age: 28 Tijuana, Mexico
- Jose Alejandro Florez Meza, aka Shakira Age: UK Tijuana, Mexico
- Alicia Martinez, aka Comadre Age:33 San Diego, CA
- Juan Carlos Magana Heredia Age: 29 Federal Custody
- Oscar Daniel Montoya Mora Age: 28 Tijuana, Mexico
- Jorge Alberto Ponce, aka Betote Age: UK Tijuana, Mexico
- Mikael Daniel Blaser, aka Troubles Age: 20 Poway, CA
- Jonathan Valle, aka Reaper Age: 25 Federal Custody
- Armando Castillo, aka Choco Age: 20 Federal Custody
- Omar Martinez, aka Nino Age: 19 San Diego, CA
- Enrique Salinas, Jr., aka Playboy Age: 26 Chula Vista, CA
- Raul Moreno, aka Flaco Age: 23 Chula Vista, CA
- Miguel Soria, aka Mikey Age: 19 State Custody
- Perla Carolina Jimenez, aka P Age: 28 Chula Vista, CA
- Luz Maria Benavidez Martinez, aka Araceli Age: 31 Chula Vista, CA
- Bridgette Reynoso, aka B Age: 23 San Diego, CA
- Jorge Humberto Lora, aka Georgie Age: 31 Chula Vista, CA
- Christopher Adrian Ruiz, aka Sneaky Age: 36 Federal Custody
- Richard Gilbert Favela, aka Tiny Age: 26 Imperial Beach, CA
- Humberto Torres Mendoza, aka Tito Age: 25 Colton, CA
- Juan Carlos Rique Aguirre, aka JC Age: 26 Mexico
- Telle Kreschmer Age: 21 San Diego, CA
- Hector Montes, aka Toxic, aka Little Spikey Age: 23 State Custody
- Jose Contreras, aka Pepe Age: 28 San Diego, CA
- Hassain Alzubaidy, aka Arab Age: 25 Moreno Valley, CA
- Ivan Mora Age: 21 San Diego, CA
- Ulises Valenzuela Age: 31 Chula Vista, CA
- Benjamin Avendano, aka Peso Age: 19 Federal Custody
- Jennifer Escamilla Age: 26 Tijuana, Mexico
- Araceli Varela, aka Uvia Age: 33 San Diego, CA
- Rocio Lopez Age: 37 San Diego, CA
- Kevin Luis, aka Listo Age: 28 San Diego, CA
United States Attorney Duffy praised the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the coordinated team effort in the culmination of this investigation. Agents and officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, Chula Vista Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, California Department of Justice and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office participated in this OCDETF investigation. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against organized crime and major drug trafficking organizations.
The case is being prosecuted in San Diego federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd W. Robinson and James P. Melendres.
A complaint is 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.