U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
For Immediate Release
June 8, 2010
Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney
Contact: Lauren Horwood
23 Nuestra Familia Members & Associates Arrested on Drug Trafficking Charges
37 Charged in Joint Federal, State, and Local Operation
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that state, local, and federal agents arrested 23 members and associates of the Nuestra Familia organization on drug trafficking and related charges and served more than 20 federal search warrants. An indictment was unsealed today charging 20 individuals with one-count of drug distribution conspiracy. The indictment was returned June 3, 2010, and charges the following individuals:
- Shawn Michael Cameron, 34, and his wife,
- Vanessa Marin Mojarro Cameron, 33, both of Hanford;
- Jose Antonio Velez, 28, of Delano;
- Richard Antonio Salas, 24, of Armona;
- Raymond Louis Avalos, 27 of Hanford;
- Carlos Enriquez, 31, of Lemoore;
- Jerome Landeros, 27, of Hanford;
- Christopher Anthony Medrano, 29, of Hanford;
- Jonathan Omar Marin Mojarro, 20, of Hanford;
- Armando Nunez, 22, of Earlimart;
- Antonio Santos Perez, 38, of Fresno;
- John Reyna, 32, of Hanford;
- Calixtro Israel Sanchez, 22 of Hanford;
- Manuel Alejandro Garcia, 24, of Lemoore;
- Leonard Luera, 22, of Hanford;
- Gamaliel Guerra, 29, of Lemoore;
- Salvador Zamora, Jr., 23, of Armona;
- David Sanchez, 29, of Hanford;
- Ernesto Castro, 30, of Hanford;
- Florentino Acosta, 34, of Fresno.
Eleven of the federal defendants were arrested this morning. Seven of the federal defendants were already in custody.
On May 7, 2010, Florentino Acosta was arrested in connection with possession of approximately $95,000 that was connected to drug trafficking. Christopher Medrano and Jonathan Mojarro were arrested in possession of 10 pounds of methamphetamine. Acosta, Medrano, and Mojarro were subsequently indicted as a co-conspirators with the above-named defendants. Jose Antonio Velez and Felix Alejandro were arrested on June 3, 2010 and charged via federal criminal complaint with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. The arrests arose as a result of their possession of approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine.
Seventeen defendants were charged with felony offenses by the Kings County District Attorney. Twelve of those defendants were arrested this morning, and five were already in custody. The total number of state and federal defendants is 37 with 35 in custody.
This case is the product of an extensive, joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kings County Narcotic Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, working closely with the local agencies of Hanford Police Department, Lemoore Police Department, Corcoran Police Department, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, Delano Police Department, Visalia Police Department, Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals Service provided assistance. Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly Sanchez and Kathleen Servatius are prosecuting the case.
Today federal and state agents seized a kilogram of cocaine, over a pound of methamphetamine, body armor, eight firearms, and over $36,000 cash.
U.S. Attorney Wagner said,
Working together, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies here struck a blow against a major drug trafficking network. We will continue to work side by side in our efforts to dismantle violent criminal gangs.
Today’s arrests should send a very clear message to those that profit from the illegal drug trade in California, stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins.
We will continue to combine our resources with our law enforcement and prosecution partners to identify and remove anyone that uses violent crime to further their criminal activity. Our goal is to make our communities a safer and more secure place to live, and today was another step in that direction.
Drew Parenti, Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento FBI said,
Gang violence is an attack not only on individuals, but also on our communities. The atmosphere of fear created by gang members simply cannot be tolerated. The FBI will continue to combine our strengths with those of federal, state and local law enforcement to tackle gangs as a team.
Kings County Sheriff Chris Jordan stated,
This case is a model of cooperation between law enforcement agencies that are local, state, and federal. For six months these agencies combined their manpower and financial resources, fueling an investigation that resulted in the indictment of more than 20 persons on federal charges and multiple state charges yet to be filed. Our goal is to incarcerate these street gang members for a very long period of time.
Hanford Police Chief Carlos A. Mestas said,
The takedown of this criminal gang in our communities sends a strong message that we will go to all ends and means at our disposal to keep these thugs off our streets. The teamwork and coordination of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in this endeavor demonstrates that commitment. History shows that other members of this or other criminal organizations will try to fill the void left by these indictments. To those waiting in the wings: we are standing vigilant and waiting for you. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of this drug trafficking offense is life in prison and a $4,000,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The arrests and search warrants were conducted as part of a joint investigation of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). 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.