ATF

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Northern District of California

www.justice.gov/usao/can

For Immediate Release

June 29, 2011

Melinda Haag, United States Attorney

Contact: Jack Gillund
(415) 436-6599
jack.gillund@usdoj.gov

Operation Knockout Defendant Sentenced to 11 Years in Federal Prison for Cocaine Distribution

Pablo Mendoza Is Fourth Federal Defendant Sentenced in Salinas Investigation

SAN JOSE – A federal judge sentenced Pablo Jose Mendoza to 11 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to possessing more than 8 kilograms of cocaine, United States Attorney MELINDA HAAG announced.

Mendoza, age 29, admitted in his plea agreement that he possessed with the intent to distribute more than 8 kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement agents seized the cocaine and $32,122 in cash from a San Jose apartment on April 22, 2010. Mendoza’s arrest was part of a multi-agency investigation known as Operation Knockout.

Mendoza was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen in San Jose. Mendoza also was ordered to forfeit $32,122 and to serve five years of supervised release upon his release from federal prison. Mendoza was arrested on April 22, 2010 and has been in custody since his arrest.

In Operation Knockout, agents from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), teamed with agents from the State of California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (BNE), California Highway Patrol (CHP), Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, the Salinas Police Department, and other state and local agencies, to investigate criminal street gangs in Salinas.

The primary federal indictment charged twelve individuals, including Mendoza, with conspiring to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. Additional defendants are being prosecuted by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

In the federal case, Geno King was sentenced to 76 months in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to distribute cocaine; Javier Garcia was sentenced to 46 months prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to distribute cocaine; and Oscar Munoz Arias was sentenced to six months prison after pleading guilty to illegal entry into the United States. Jose Nuno and Hector Uribe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and await sentencing in August.

Trial of the remaining defendants is set for January 23, 2012, before Judge Jensen in federal court in San Jose.

The maximum statutory penalty for the drug distribution conspiracy charged in the Operation Knockout indictment is life imprisonment, with a statutory minimum sentence of 10 years for some of the charges in the indictment. The maximum fine is $4,000,000. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Nat Cousins, Allison Danner, and David Countryman are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the Operation Knockout case with the assistance of legal technicians Nina Williams and Kamille Singh. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), aided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service. Federal agents teamed with agents from the Salinas Police Department, Monterey County Gang Task Force, and Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations and all defendants must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Further Information:

Case #: CR 10-00301 DLJ

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office's Web site at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

Judges' calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s Web site at www.cand.uscourts.gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Jack Gillund at (415) 436-6599 or by email at Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov.

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