U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Arizona
District of Arizona
For Immediate Release
Monday, November 28, 2011
Ann Birmingham Scheel, United States Attorney
Contact: Manuel Tarango, Public Affairs Officer
Three Mexican Nationals Indicted as Part of Drug Conspiracy and Illegal Use of Firearms
PHOENIX — On November 22, 2011, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a four count indictment against Luis Enrique Lizarraga–Ayala, 23, Octavio Rivera–Mendez, 36, and Juan Carlos Casas–Pacheco, 22, for violations of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Aid and Abet in the Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense, and Aliens Unlawfully in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition.
At the time of their arrest on November 10, 2011, the indictment alleges the three individuals were part of a crew in the Vekol Valley involved in using firearms to rob drug couriers carrying marijuana in the desert. All three men were in the United States illegally, and had been deported previously. They each have since been ordered detained pending trial.
The indictment also alleges that on November 10, 2011, Lizarraga–Ayala, Octavio–Rivera, and Casas–Pacheco conspired with each other to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. The indictment also alleges that Lizarraga–Ayala, Octavio–Rivera, and Casas–Pacheco, during and in relation to their drug trafficking conspiracy, used and carried a Ruger Mini 30 Rifle and a Smith and Wesson Model 64, 38 Special in furtherance of their conspiracy. Finally, the indictment alleges that both Lizarraga–Ayala and Rivera–Mendez were each aliens unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition.
A conviction for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 5 years, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. A conviction for Aid and Abet in the Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense carries a minimum penalty of 5 years, a $250,000 fine, or both. A conviction for Alien in Possession of Firearms and Ammunition carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, a $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Bolton will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Border Patrol. The prosecution is being handled by Robert K. Lu, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR–11–2276–PHX–SRB
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011–261(Lizarraga–Ayala_et al.)