17 November 2004 – LAWFUEL – Law, legal, attorney, criminal law news …

17 November 2004 – LAWFUEL – Law, legal, attorney, criminal law news – Five men were indicted today in relation to a drug trafficking ring that imported marijuana into Southern California and distributed large quantities of the drug in Florida and New York. As part of the investigation, narcotics investigators seized more than 1,700 kilograms of marijuana and more than $1.3 million in cash.
Those indicted today are:
* Mervin McPherson Soares, 44, of San Dimas;
* Ryan Louis Roberto, 33, of La Habra;
* Jose Luis Montano, 49, of Fontana;
* Melvin A. Hernandez, 57, of Lomita; and
* Oswald G. Thompson, 49, of New York State.
* Roberto was arrested on October 28 pursuant to a criminal complaint and is being held without bond. Soares turned himself in to law enforcement authorities on November 2. Roberto and Soares are scheduled to be arraigned on December 6 in United States District Court in Santa Ana. Hernandez will be issued a summons to appear in court for an arraignment on the same date. Montano is a fugitive currently being sought by federal authorities. Thompson’s whereabouts are presently unknown and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
* A federal grand jury in Santa Ana earlier this afternoon returned a 35-count indictment that alleges conspiracy, marijuana distribution, money laundering and structuring cash transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.
* In recent weeks as the two-year investigation came to a close, federal agents seized approximately $1.3 million from bank accounts and safe deposit boxes, as well as nine vehicles, including a BMW 760Li. Additionally, the government has filed claims on real estate located in San Dimas, Palmdale, La Habra Heights and Huntington Park.
* The indictment alleges that the marijuana distributed by the Soares-run organization was concealed in wooden crates at a warehouse in Gardena and shipped to freight warehouses in New York and Florida. Roberto and Hernandez allegedly concealed the marijuana in wooden crates and Roberto was paid by Soares to ship the marijuana. Thompson allegedly participated in the drug negotiations, delivered the drugs and collected payment from the marijuana buyers. Montano allegedly supplied the marijuana to Soares.
* If convicted of the charges in the indictment, the defendants each face mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in federal prison.
* An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
* This case is a result of a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-CriminaI Investigation Division and the Orange Police Department.
* CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Carmen R. Luege
* (714) 338-3538
* Release No. 04-143

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