A sting initiated by a special task force last summer and continuing through March resulted in the seizure of 942 marijuana plants, 56 pounds of methamphetamine and $269,000 cash.
Three of 11 people busted in a state and federal investigation into a nationwide drug smuggling operation are from Riverside County, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Monday.
Erwin Alva, Rosemary Alvarez and Ernesto Carrillo are accused conspirators in a trafficking operation targeted by the Department of Justice’s Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team.
A sting initiated by the task force last summer and continuing through March resulted in the seizure of 942 marijuana plants, 56 pounds of methamphetamine and $269,000 cash.
“Transnational drug traffickers aren’t troubled by the details of law enforcement jurisdictions or government borders, and neither should our enforcement efforts,” Attorney General Kamala Harris said. “Our success shows the pressing need for more collaboration and funding to fight transnational drug trafficking in California.”
Alva, Alvarez and Carrrillo were arrested in Riverside County in March and charged with 13 felony counts, including possession, transportation and sales of controlled substances, possession of restricted ammunition and conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice.
All three are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail in the Tulare County jail.
Their co-defendants are: Angel Pedraza Cervantes, Gerardo Campos Cuin, John DeWayne, Jose Magana, Manuel Munoz, Juan Parra, Christopher Pellegrin and Ana Valero.
Cervantes and Cuin were arrested in Jonesboro, Ark., in February. They’re charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arkansas.
The other defendants were arrested in Central California.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Magana was the alleged ring leader, operating a drug trafficking network with connections in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Some of the ring’s clients included Chicano prison gangs based in Northern California.
The Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team consists of sheriff’s personnel from Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Forest Service.
Tulare County-based drug smuggling ring busted
DINUBA, Calif. (KFSN) — A major international drug smuggling ring based in Tulare County has been busted.
California’s attorney general came to Fresno on Monday to announce the end of a year-long investigation into a multi-national drug operation, with ties to Mexican drug cartels and California prison gangs. Eleven people were arrested, including suspected kingpin Jose Magana.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said the investigation began last summer when law enforcement officials suspected Magana, 33, of marijuana trafficking. Magana lived in Dinuba. Harris said law enforcement officers later learned his organization allegedly had a drug-distributing business stretching more than 3,000 miles and was raking in large amounts of cash.
Harris said the group worked with street gangs associated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang to smuggle methamphetamine and cocaine through San Diego to the Central Valley, and then distribute it to states like Arkansas, Illinois and New York.
Five people — including Magana, Manuel Munoz, Juan Parra, John Dewayne Young and Magana’s alleged girlfriend Ana Valero — were arrested in Tulare County over a four-month period. Four others were arrested last month in Riverside County. The nine are now being held in the Tulare County Jail and face charges of transportation and sale of a controlled substance, and prohibited possession of ammunition. Two others were arrested in Arkansas.
During the arrests, authorities seized 56 pounds of meth, four kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 950 marijuana plants. They also discovered about $270,000 in cash.
“This is about doing the investigative work to go through the various layers of an otherwise highly-sophisticated, intricate organization so that we can get the top guys, and I’m proud to say that in this case we got the top guy of this organization,” said Harris.
Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Dan Underwood said nine of the 11 he’s prosecuting pleaded not guilty. Two defendants are charged in federal court.
On Monday, Harris used the occasion to call on legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to restore part of the $71 million cut from her budget for such anti-drug efforts. She said she’d start by asking for $7.5 million to deploy more drug task forces, much like the one in this case which made the bust possible.
California officials nab 11 in drug ring bust
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in California say they have dismantled a drug trafficking organization that sent narcotics smuggled in from Mexico to communities across the United States.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined law enforcement officials from the Central Valley in Fresno on Monday to announce the bust, which included the arrests of 11 people.
Harris said the group worked with Nuestra Familia street gangs to smuggle methamphetamine and cocaine through San Diego to the Central Valley and then distribute it to states such as Arkansas, Illinois and New York.
She called on legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to restore part of the $71 million cut from her budget in recent years for such anti-drug efforts.