Four members of meth trafficking operation sentenced

POSTED: 05:00 PM MST Mar 08, 2013 
POCATELLO, Idaho -

Culminating a nine month investigation, four co-conspirators have been sentenced in United States District Court for their parts in a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking organization. The defendants appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello. 

Antonio Javier Mendoza, 28, of Shelley, Idaho, was sentenced on March 5 to 96 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine.   Mendoza was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.  He pleaded guilty to the charge on December 18, 2012.   

Fabiola Esmerelda Marin Castro, 25, a Mexican national formerly living in Rexburg, Idaho, was sentenced on March 5 to 36 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine.  She was also fined $300 and ordered to forfeit $83,575 and two vehicles.  She pleaded guilty on December 18.

Daniel Quiroz, 25, a Mexican national formerly residing in Rexburg, was sentenced on Thursday to 78 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine.  Quiroz was ordered to serve five years of supervised release and fined $500.  He will be subject to deportation following his release from prison.  He pleaded guilty on December 18. 

Abel Garcia, 24, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced Friday for making a false statement to a bank.  Garcia was sentenced to one month in prison followed by two years of supervised release, and fined $750.  He pleaded guilty to the charge on December 19.

Nine other defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing in April.  One defendant is a fugitive.

Samuel Nevarez-Ayon, 26, a Mexican national formerly living in Rexburg, pleaded guilty to continuing criminal enterprise for his leadership role in the conspiracy.  Sentencing is set for April 4.  He faces a minimum term of 20 years up to life in prison, a maximum fine of $2 million, and a minimum term of five years of supervised release.

Juan Ortiz, Jr., 28, Ricardo Garcia Lopez, 36, Isidoro David Herrera, 31, of Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Rafael Ignacio Guerrero, 37, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine.  They each face a minimum term of ten years in prison, at least five years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $10 million.   Ortiz and Lopez are set for sentencing on April 1; Guerrero on April 3, and Herrera on April 30. 

Everado Tapia Torres, Jr., 30, of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine.  He faces at least five years in prison, a maximum fine of $5 million, and at least four years of supervised release.  Sentencing is set for April 3. 

Ana Rosa Valdez-Ceja, 26, of Shelley, pleaded guilty to money laundering.  She faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $500,000, and up to three years of supervised release.   Sentencing is set for April 29.

Alberto Abarca, 23, of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  He faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, and up to three years of supervised release.  Sentencing is set for April 29.

Nicolas Levi Olsen, 30, of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.  He faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, and up to three years of supervised release.  Sentencing is set for April 30.

Guadalupe Meraz, 41, of Medera, California, is a fugitive from justice.  A warrant has been issued for his arrest. 

According to the plea agreements, from June 2005 through January 2012, a group of individuals centered around Nevarez-Ayon entered into a conspiracy to possess and distribute in excess of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in the Idaho Falls area.  Nevarez-Ayon admitted that he distributed methamphetamine to other individuals on at least three occasions during this same time period.  In furtherance of the conspiracy, Nevarez-Ayon directed activities of various co-defendants.  In addition to distributing methamphetamine, several defendants laundered proceeds from the sale of the methamphetamine, and made false loan application to local banks to further the laundering of money.  During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants obtained in excess of $500,000 from the distribution of methamphetamine. 

The charges are the result of a nine-month investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  The task force included Idaho State Police, Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, Rexburg Police Department, Bingham County Sheriff's Office, Fremont County Sheriff's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Other federal agencies participating in the OCDETF program include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

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.