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14 indicted for role in major central California drug trafficking ring

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Fourteen defendants have been indicted on a variety of federal drug trafficking offenses for their role in a far-reaching scheme based in California’s Central Valley to produce and distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.

A federal grand jury returned a 32-count indictment Thursday against Francisco Felix, 40, of Mountain House; Alejandro Martinez, 25, of Patterson; Miguel Felix, 34, of Ceres; Martin Lopez, 48, of Rosemead; Gerardo Barraza, 19, of Stockton; Rafael Alcauter, 49, of Newman; Ramon Diaz, 33, of Ceres; Raul Rangel, 41, of San Jose; Sergio Modesto, 34, of Turlock; Martin Rubio, 49, of Stockton; Leonaires Alcauter, 48, of Patterson; Alfonso Magana, 52, of Patterson; Antonio Ramirez, 35, of Patterson; and Augustin Ramirez, 62, of Patterson.

The defendants face a variety of charges, including conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana; conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; distribution of methamphetamine; manufacture of marijuana; and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

This case was the product of an investigation by the California Department of Justice’s Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team under the auspices of the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, the sheriff’s departments from Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties; the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; and the California National Guard Joint Task Force Domestic Support-Counterdrug.

The indictments stem from a yearlong narcotics investigation targeting a Central Valley-based drug trafficking organization with ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel that was importing large quantitites of methamphetamine and cocaine into the U.S. Those narcotics were subsequently distributed throughout California and across the country. The investigation also revealed the organization was cultivating marijuana at numerous properties in both Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

"Through our joint enforcement efforts, we’ve dismantled a criminal organization that posed a serious public safety threat, as evidenced by the weapons and drugs seized during the course of this case," said Dan Lane, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Sacramento. "The arrests and resulting indictments in this investigation have disrupted a potentially deadly supply chain and prevented an untold volume of dangerous drugs from reaching our streets."

Over the last nine months, investigators acquired more than 70 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately three pounds of high-grade marijuana, and six firearms, including three assault-style rifles, from members of the organization. Additionally, law enforcement seized 10 pounds of methamphetamine from a member’s Los Angeles-area residence last December.

If convicted of the charges, the defendants face a minimum prison term of five years with a maximum sentence of life, as well as a fine of up to $10 million.