LOS ANGELES, CA – Federal and local authorities arrested 14 defendants named in a federal indictment that alleges widespread drug trafficking activities by a Whittier-based organization and its Mexico-based suppliers of cocaine and methamphetamine on December 8. An additional five defendants named in the indictment are already in custody.
Those arrested are among 44 defendants named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury last month. Wiretapped communications outlined in the indictment involved discussions of shipments as large as 90 kilograms of cocaine and 30 pounds of methamphetamine. During the course of the investigation that led to this morning’s arrests, authorities made seizures totaling approximately 75 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million in cash. Just this morning, authorities seized more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine and a firearm.
“Hundreds of pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine have been taken off the streets as a result of this collaborative investigation between the DEA and the Whittier Police Department,” said Timothy J. Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA in Los Angeles. “Today’s arrests are welcome news for Southern California residents who want dangerous drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine out of our neighborhoods.”
The indictment unsealed this morning alleges the defendants were involved in a long-running conspiracy involving the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine. Because of the quantities of drugs involved in this case, all 44 defendants named in the indictment face mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in federal prison and they could receive life sentences. The indictment also charges various defendants in 12 substantive counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine, many of which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life.
The indictment unsealed today is the third in a series that focuses on the Sendis Family drug trafficking organization. During the course of the overall investigation, which started in 2006 and has now resulted in three indictments naming a total of 59 defendants, DEA agents have seized more than 225 pounds of high-purity methamphetamine, more than 400 kilograms of cocaine, and more than $4.6 million in cash.
The investigation in this case focused on the Whittier-based Sendis drug trafficking organization, as well as the organization’s Mexican suppliers. Two leaders of the Sendis organization – Nicholas and Jennifer Sendis – were arrested in 2008, during the first wave of arrests, and subsequently convicted. After the initial wave of arrests, other family members of the Sendis organization took over the drug trafficking operations. Siblings Rogelio Sendis, Salvador Sendis and Angelita Sendis took over the organization’s activities after their brother, Nicholas Sendis, was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison. Because the investigation that led to today’s arrests anticipated reuniting the three Sendises arrested today with their brother already in federal custody, the DEA dubbed its investigation Operation Family Reunion.
The second superseding indictment unsealed today also charges several Mexico-based methamphetamine suppliers, including Jose Felix-Barraza, who is currently a fugitive. The indictment alleges that Felix-Barraza supplied drugs to the Sendis organization, as well as other customers throughout the Southwest United States.
The defendants arrested this morning pursuant to the 14-count second superseding indictment are:
The defendants arrested this morning will be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Authorities continue to search for additional defendants named in the indictment.