Salem Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison After Jury Conviction in Drug Conspiracy
MAR 20 -- (Salem) – DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas and the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, Dwight C. Holton announced that on April 19, 2010 the leader of a far-reaching drug conspiracy, Jorge Ortiz-Oliva, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine and marijuana. Co-conspirator Pablo Barajas-Lopez was also sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. In October 2009, both Salem men were found guilty after a seven day jury trial. Nine other co-conspirators pleaded guilty prior to trial to various drug trafficking charges related to their roles in the conspiracy. Subsequent to the trial, Ortiz-Oliva, a citizen of Mexico, plead guilty to the charge of illegal re-entry into the United States.
“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message to drug traffickers that their actions have serious consequences,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Paul W. Schmidt. “Operation ‘Need for Speed’” exposed and dismantled this far reaching and well established poly-drug trafficking organization. This investigation is an excellent example of team work, cooperation and dedication by law enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to keeping our communities safe and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat drug trafficking.”
Ortiz-Oliva headed the organization which produced methamphetamine in large “super labs” (over 10 lbs. per cooking cycle) over a several year period in Marion County, Oregon. The organization grew vast fields of marijuana plants on public lands and national forests in several states including remote areas of Jackson County, Oregon, where over 20,000 marijuana plants were seized. Ortiz-Oliva orchestrated the interstate distribution of large loads of methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine to other drug traffickers located in Texas, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Georgia, Massachusetts, Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Ohio, and Utah. Over an eight-week period, law enforcement seized $835,000 in cash from hidden compartments in three separate vehicles traveling south on I-5 between Eugene and Medford. In June 2007, search warrants were executed in multiple states and investigators seized nine kilograms of cocaine in San Jose, California: additional large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana were seized in Arizona and Oregon together with meth lab equipment, numerous firearms and $126,000 more in cash from several of the conspirators.
The drug quantities involved, the level of drugs produced in clandestine labs and in the national forests, combined with the geographical scope of the conspiracy make this drug trafficking organization one of the largest drug organizations encountered in the District of Oregon. Ortiz-Oliva is considered a “career offender” under federal law based on his prior convictions for assault in the third degree for shooting a man in Salem, Oregon and for the Oregon federal convictions of possession with intent to distribute amphetamine.
This investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with substantial assistance from the Salem Police Department, the Oregon State Police, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the Blue Mountain Narcotics Team, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Regional Organized Crime Narcotics Task Force, the Keizer Police Department, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.