12 other individuals have previously been charged as result of Ope…

12 other individuals have previously been charged as result of Operation Emerald Web

SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – US Legal News – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that Operation Emerald Web has resulted in eight arrests in the North Bay as part of a multi-year investigation into the trafficking of methamphetamine and other drugs. The charges against the defendants include conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine, distribution of methamphetamine, and maintaining a place for manufacturing, storing, and distributing marijuana. The indictment against the eight individuals, all residents of Santa Rosa, California, was filed on February 6, 2007, and unsealed yesterday after the individuals were arrested by federal and state law enforcement officers. Three of the individuals made their initial appearances this morning in court before Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, the remaining five made their initial appearances yesterday morning.

The arrests mark the latest action in an ongoing, multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation, one of the largest ever directed against narcotics trafficking in the North Bay. The investigation, begun in late 2004, was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with substantial assistance from the Sonoma County Narcotics Task Force, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, the Santa Rosa Police Department, the Petaluma Police Department, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “This investigation represents the results of this office’s commitment to bringing federal resources to bear on the growing problem of methamphetamine trafficking in Santa Rosa and the northern Bay Area counties. It also demonstrates the ability of multiple federal and state agencies to collaborate against organized crime that stretches across at least three counties.”

“Drug traffickers often weave tangled webs full of violence, deciet and greed. Operation Emerald Web is another example of DEA’s commitment to work with our partners in law enforcement in dismantling these organizations,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Pena.

“The success of this operation is a testament to the hard work and professionalism of all the members of the task force,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Charlene B. Thornton, “The FBI is proud to be working together with our federal, state, and local partners to make a clear difference in the northern Bay Area.”

In the course of this investigation in the past two years, numerous searches have resulted in the seizure of:

• More than $600,000 in United States Currency;

• Approximately 35 pounds of Methamphetamine;

• Approximately 4 pounds of Pseudoephedrine;

• Approximately 3 pounds of cocaine;

• More than 5,000 Pounds of Marijuana;

• Nearly 20,000 Live Marijuana Plants; and,

• At least 50 firearms, including at least 5 assault rifles.

The DEA estimates the street value of the seized drugs to be over $5 million.

The following individuals were indicted by the federal grand jury on February 6, 2007:

• Domingo Tamayo, Jr., 27, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Javier Tamayo, Jr., 31, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Julio Palominos, 19, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Jose Campos, 54, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Richard Moreno, 28, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Cristobol Tamayo, 18, of Santa Rosa, California;

• Edward Souza, 49, of Santa Rosa, California; and,

• Carolina Palomares, 55, of Santa Rosa, California.

According to the indictment, all of the defendants, except Ms. Palomares, are alleged to have conspired to manufacture and distribute more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine between at least March 2006 and continuing until September 2006. Four of them – Domingo Tamayo, Jr., Javier Tamayo, Julio Palominos, and Richard Moreno – are alleged to have conspired to distribute pseudoephedrine, a precursor used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Domingo Tamayo, Jr., Javier Tamayo, Jose Campos, Julio Palominos, and Cristobol Tamayo are also alleged to have engaged in the distribution of more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine. Carolina Palomares is charged with maintaining a place for the purpose of manufacturing, storing and processing marijuana.

All eight defendants were arraigned in the past two days on the charges by the Honorable Maria-Elena James and entered not guilty pleas. The defendants’ next scheduled appearance is before the Honorable Charles R. Breyer on Wednesday, March 28, 2006.

The maximum statutory penalties for the charges are as follows:

• Title 21, U.S.C. § 846, Conspiracy – a minimum mandatory term of

imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; a

$ 4,000,000 fine; a minimum term of supervised release of five years and a special assessment of $100.

• Title 21, U.S.C. § 841, Distribution of Methamphetamine – a minimum

mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life; a $ 4,000,000 fine; a minimum term of supervised release of five years and a special assessment of $100.

• Title 21, U.S.C. § 856(a)(2), Maintaining a Place for Manufacturing,

Storing and Distributing Marijuana – up to 20 years imprisonment, $500,000 fine; a minimum term of supervised release of five years and a special assessment of $100.

Sentences can be higher for individuals with prior felony drug convictions. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

An indictment contains allegations against an individual and all defendants charged in the indictment must be presumed innocent unless and until they are convicted.

In addition to the individuals charged in yesterday’s enforcement action, at least twelve other individuals have previously been charged as result of Operation Emerald Web:

• Victor Maldonado-Torres, of Bowling Green, Florida, was indicted by the federal grand jury for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida for a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, on February 17, 2006, for intent to distribute methamphetamine that was allegedly shipped from a residence in Petaluma, California;

• Elias Gonzalez, of Petaluma, California, was sentenced on April 27, 2006, in the Northern District of California, for a violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a), illegal re-entry after deportation, after he was found at the Petaluma residence connected with Mr. Maldonado-Torres;

• Pedro Alcazar, of Petaluma, California, was sentenced on August 30, 2006, in the Northern District of California, for a violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(b), illegal re-entry after deportation, after he was found at the Petaluma residence connected with Mr. Maldonado-Torres;

• Hugo Barragan, of Santa Rosa, California, was indicted on November 14, 2006, by the federal grand jury for the Northern District of California, for a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense marijuana, in connection with a large-scale marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County;

• Jose Maldonado, of Santa Rosa, California, was indicted on November 14, 2006, by the federal grand jury for the Northern District of California, for a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense marijuana, in connection with a large-scale marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County;

• Gabriel Barragan, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on December 11, 2006, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense marijuana, in connection with a large-scale marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County;

• Mario Barragan, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on December 11, 2006, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense marijuana, in connection with a large-scale marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County;

• Christian Barragan, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on December 11, 2006, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and dispense marijuana, in connection with a large-scale marijuana growing operation in Mendocino County;

• Julio Cesar Vega, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on February 1, 2007, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and dispense methamphetamine in Sonoma County;

• Irma Vega, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on February 1, 2007, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and dispense methamphetamine in Sonoma County;

• Celso Betancourt Medrando, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on February 1, 2007, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and dispense methamphetamine in Sonoma County; and,

• Octavio Patino Morales, of Santa Rosa, California, was arrested on February 1, 2007, on a criminal complaint charging him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and dispense methamphetamine in Sonoma County.

Timothy J. Lucey is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case in the Northern District of California, with the assistance of legal technicians Ana Guerra and Cherell Hallett.

Further Information:

Case #: CR 06- 0647 CRB.

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