BOISE - Law enforcement officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Nampa Police Department, the District of Idaho U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office announced that in the early morning hours of January 14, 2011, federal agents and local authorities from 10 law enforcement agencies executed 18 search warrants in Nampa and Caldwell. The enforcement operations resulted in nine felony arrests and the seizure of approximately five pounds of methamphetamine, marijuana, 28 firearms, and two bulletproof vests. Over $30,000 in cash and approximately 10 vehicles were also seized. Operation Flamethrower, which is an Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, was the result of a multi-agency law enforcement effort which targeted large-scale methamphetamine and firearms traffickers during the last 12 months.
According to DEA Resident Agent in Charge Bill Lutz and Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger, Operation Flamethrower is the sixth in a series of large drug trafficking cases that have been undertaken by local and federal authorities in the last four years. Five previous operations, Operation Mountain Lion (2006/2007 methamphetamine case), Operation White Wolf (2008 cocaine case), Operation Tall Boy (2008/2009 methamphetamine/cocaine/marijuana case), Operation Poncho Villa (2009/2010 methamphetamine/cocaine/marijuana case), and Operation Night Rider (2010-2011 methamphetamine case) also resulted in the successful prosecution of other large-scale trafficking organizations.
Felony charges have been filed in Canyon County against the following nine adults:
Jose Ramon Escobedo Gonzalez (33) of Nampa, Idaho, possession with intent to deliver, immigration hold; Lourdes Muro Gonzalez (32) of Nampa, Idaho, aiding and abetting delivery of a controlled substance, immigration hold; Fabian Nunez-Garcia (49) of Nampa, Idaho, possession with intent to deliver, immigration hold; Juventino Plancarte-Lara (42) of Nampa, Idaho, trafficking in methamphetamine, immigration hold; Jorge Luis Cardoza (24) of Nampa, Idaho, trafficking in methamphetamine, immigration hold; Guadalupe Vargas Bonilla (27) of Nampa, Idaho, trafficking in methamphetamine, immigration hold; Victor Chavez Garcia (18) of Nampa, Idaho, trafficking in methamphetamine; Martha Chavez (50) of Nampa, Idaho, Trafficking in methamphetamine, immigration hold; and Elena Lupuleasa (25) of Nampa, Idaho, grand theft by possession of stolen property.
In addition, three juveniles have been charged with aiding and abetting the delivery of a controlled substance. More than 20 other suspects were cited for misdemeanor drug possession and frequenting charges, arrested on other warrants, or placed on immigration holds.
Operation Flamethrower included the cooperative law enforcement efforts of the following agencies: DEA, Nampa Police Department, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, Canyon County SWAT team, METRO Violent Crime Task Force, Idaho State Police, Caldwell Police Department, Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Boise City Police Department, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The investigation is ongoing, and additional persons are expected to be charged in federal and state court.