Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Arizona

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ann B. Scheel, United States Attorney

Contact: Sandy Raynor

Six Sentenced for Their Roles in Drug RIP Crew

PHOENIX – Eric Mendoza-Ochoa, 36; Delfino Acuna-Lozada, 30; Gaston Delgado-Luque, 20; Cristian Barron-Gonzalez, 19; Rodolfo Leon-Varela, 20; and Fernando Aispuro-Serrano, 23; were sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee for charges related to their role as a rip crew in a drug conspiracy. Judge McNamee sentenced Mendoza to eight years, four months prison; Acuna to six years prison; Delgado to five years, four months prison; Barron to six years, four months prison; Leon to five years prison; and Aispuro to six years, four months prison. All but Barron, who is from Phoenix, are from Mexico and are in the U.S. illegally. Acuna had been previously removed from the U.S. following convictions for possession of marijuana and extreme driving under the influence of alcohol.

Each defendant previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense (aid and abet).

In May 2009, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted a sting operation, dubbed Operation Gideon, in an effort to address violent crimes, including home invasions robberies, drug trafficking, and firearms trafficking. Between July 13 through 17, 2009, the defendants met and agreed with an undercover agent to perform and armed robbery of what they believed would be an armed drug-stash house. A total of four men in two cars arrived with four loaded firearms as they planned to steal bricks of cocaine. They were never able to carry this plan out, though, as officers and agents arrested them before they drove to the house.

Operation Gideon involved the deployment of some of ATF’s most experienced undercover operatives partnering with local agents and police investigators by conducting sting investigations involving violent home invasion crews. Phoenix was selected as the launch site for Operation Gideon to address violent crimes, including home invasion robberies and kidnappings. Operation Gideon yielded 70 arrests, the seizure of approximately $39,000 dollars, several firearms along with ballistic vests, plastic restraints, duct tape, gloves and ski masks. Operation Gideon began in May 2009 and ran for 120 days.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution was handled by Theresa Cole Rassas, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix


RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-195(Mendoza-Ochoa et al)