DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 18, 2014
Sally Quillian Yates
, United States Attorney
Contact: Bob Page

Eight Members of Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Operating in Atlanta Sentenced to Federal Prison

ATLANTA, GA – Eight drug traffickers have been sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. 

“These defendants thought that their drug trafficking operations would go unnoticed in Clayton County neighborhoods,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “They were wrong.  Due to the outstanding efforts of DEA agents and their local law enforcement partners, these traffickers are off our streets and headed to federal prison.” 

“The success of this investigation is a tribute to the strong local, state, and federal partnerships that demonstrate our combined impact on targeting and dismantling those methamphetamine trafficking organizations that peddle poison to our neighborhoods,” said John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Atlanta Field Division.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  In or about 2012, Candido Ortuno Alvear, who was on parole in Texas for a cocaine trafficking offense, moved to the Atlanta, Ga. area to set up a methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution organization.  Alvear recruited his then 19-year-old son, Victor Ortuno-Penaloza, brother-in-law Vicente Arana Galvan, cousin Tomas Sanchez Juarez, and associate Pablo Maldonado Penalosa to carry out the day-to-day operations of the organization.  The organization rented several “stash houses” in Clayton County, Ga., which were used to manufacture, store, package, and distribute large quantities of methamphetamine, including homes on Needle Drive in Forest Park, Ga., and on Maple Avenue in Morrow, Ga.  Alonso Alfonso Rivera, who resided in a home on Brian Court in Forest Park, served as a methamphetamine distributor for the organization. 

On January 18, 2013, agents observed Maldonado Penalosa meet with Robert Dale Penland at the Maple Avenue residence in Morrow, to provide Penland with a quantity of methamphetamine.  After Penland departed the residence, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of Penland on Interstate 75 in Henry County, Ga., and located approximately 10 pounds of “ice” methamphetamine under the back passenger seat.  Penland was traveling in the vehicle with his wife and ten-month-old grandson, who had in fact accompanied Penland into the garage of the Maple Avenue residence earlier that day. 

Several days later, on January 22, 2013, Maldonado provided Octavio Cruz Albar with a quantity of methamphetamine outside of the Maple Avenue residence.   Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of Albar, who was traveling in a taxi, and located approximately two pounds of “ice” methamphetamine inside a shoebox where Albar had been seated.  The investigation revealed that Juarez had manufactured the seized “ice” methamphetamine in the Needle Drive residence in Forest Park, in coordination with Alvear, Ortuno-Penaloza, and Galvan.

Later that evening, agents executed federal search warrants at the Maple Avenue and Needle Drive residences, and located methamphetamine and methamphetamine processing materials inside both houses.  Agents also executed a search warrant at Rivera’s Brian Court residence, in Forest Park arrested Rivera, and located a 9mm Beretta 92FS handgun under a couch cushion.  Agents arrested Juarez and Ortuno-Penaloza in a nearby motel and Galvan, Alvear, and Maldonado in a residence on Kennesaw Drive in Forest Park. 

  • Candido Ortuno Alvear, 40, of Forest Park, Ga., was sentenced to 21 years and ten months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. 
  • Victor Ortuno-Penaloza, 21, of Forest Park, Ga., was sentenced to nine years and eight months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.   
  • Vicente Arana Galvan, 44, of Morrow, Ga., was sentenced to ten years and eight months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.   
  • Tomas Sanchez Juarez, 27, of Forest Park, Ga., was sentenced to twelve years and seven months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.  
  • Pablo Maldonado Penalosa, 30, of Forest Park, Ga., was sentenced to nine years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. 
  • Octavio Cruz Albar, 29, of Atlanta, Ga., was sentenced to six years and six months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  
  • Robert Dale Penland, 55, of Asheville, NC., was sentenced to eight years and five months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.
  • Alonso Alfonso Rivera, 31, of Forest Park, Ga., was sentenced to ten years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.  In addition to the methamphetamine conspiracy charge, Rivera was sentenced on the charge of possession of a firearm by an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States.

All defendants were convicted of the above charges upon their pleas of guilty last year.  They were sentenced by United States District Judge Amy Totenberg.

This case was investigated by DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers with valuable assistance provided by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, MCS (Marietta Cobb Smyrna) Narcotics Unit, Flint Circuit Drug Task Force, Georgia State Patrol, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, and Henry County Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael Herskowitz prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at the following web site:

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is


Atlanta Field Division