Four plead guilty to federal drug trafficking and money laundering

POSTED: 08:54 AM MST Jan 25, 2013 
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POCATELLO, Idaho -

The U.S. Attorney's Office says four more members of an Idaho Falls area drug trafficking organization have pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges in U.S. District Court in Pocatello.  

 Isidoro David Herrera, 31, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine. The charge is punishable by a minimum term of ten years up to life in prison, a maximum fine of $10 million, and at least five years of supervised release.

Alberto Abarca, 22, of Idaho Falls, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

 Nicolas Levi Olsen, 29, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, pleaded guilty today to aiding and abetting the possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $1 million, and at least three years of supervised release.

Ana Rosa Valdez-Ceja, 26, of Shelley, Idaho, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to money laundering, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $500,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

According to plea agreements, a group of individuals centered around co-defendant Samuel Nevarez-Ayon entered into a conspiracy to posess and distribute in excess of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine on at least three occasions from June 2005 through January 2012. 

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson said several defendants laundered proceeds from the sale of the drug and made false application to local banks to further the laundering of money.  She said the defendants obtained more than half a million dollars from the distribution of methamphetamine. 

Abarca and Valdez-Ceja are scheduled to be sentenced on April 29, and Herrera and Olsen on April 30, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

Nine co-conspirators pleaded guilty in December 2012 to related drug trafficking charges. Sentencings are set for March 6, 7 and 8.

The remaining defendant, Guadalupe Meraz, 41, of Madera, California, did not appear in court as scheduled. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

The charges resulted from a nine month investigation involving multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  Among them, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), 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.