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5 central California men plead guilty to plotting large-scale methamphetamine deal

FRESNO, Calif. — Five central California men have pleaded guilty to federal charges involving a methamphetamine trafficking scheme. This plot was uncovered by agents with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in conjunctions with federal and local investigators.

Jose Balderon Calderon, also known as Jose Manual Valencia Mendoza, 30, of Newark, Calif., and Juan Birruetta Kansino, 26, of Modesto, Calif., pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. Calderon also pleaded guilty to using a firearm during the drug transaction. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 4.

Martin Guizar Sanchez, 42, of Ceres, Calif., Donaciano Magana Rosales, 36, of San Jose, Calif., and Rene Rangel Calderon, 35, of Modesto, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are schedule for sentencing on Nov. 10.

According to court records, between June 9 and July 14, 2010, Sanchez negotiated to sell approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine for a total of $120,000 to an undercover operative. Rene Calderon and Kansino delivered the drugs to Rosales and Jose Calderon in a vehicle with a hidden compartment. Rosales and Jose Calderon were arrested when they delivered the vehicle to Sanchez and after officers found a loaded hand gun carried by Jose Calderon. Sanchez was arrested a short time later after he led police on a vehicle chase from the scene.

"Methamphetamine is a vicious drug that destroys lives, devastates communities, and seriously compromises the public's safety and well-being," said Kim Wong, resident agent in charge of ICE HSI in Stockton. "By sharing information and resources and following the money trail, HSI and its law enforcement partners have successfully dismantled this criminal organization's heinous activities."

Throughout this investigation ICE HSI worked with the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency, the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Task Force, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen A. Servatius is prosecuting the case.

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiring to distribute this quantity of methamphetamine is life in prison and a $4 million fine. Carrying a firearm during the commission of a drug offense is punishable by a mandatory 5-year term and up to life in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.