Undercover Investigations Result in the
SAN FRANCISCO – Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña, announced today the arrest of three bay area individuals and the service of a federal search warrant in San Pablo resulting in the seizure of approximately 13 lbs of suspected “ice” methamphetamine. Ice methamphetamine is a purified form of methamphetamine that is ingested by smoking. Its appearance is often described as that of broken glass or shattered ice, with a high purity. Arrested in connection with the investigation were Martin PEREZ VILLALOBOS, 38, of San Pablo, Juan Carlos ESPARZA PEREZ, 33, of Vallejo and Jose HUERTA, 46, of San Pablo.
“While its appearance may look crystal clear, make no mistake about it, the one thing clear about methamphetamine are its effects,” stated Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña. “If you look into a crystal ball you will see that “ice” can only bring one thing in the future…..death….death to the environment, death to the community, and ultimately death to the user.”
Two undercover investigations were initiated this year by the DEA San Francisco Office and the San Francisco Police Department. According to the affidavit in one investigation, in August 2006, ESPARZA agreed to “front” an officer acting in undercover capacity ½ lb of “ice” in Pinole. ESPARZA allegedly sent PEREZ in his place to complete the transaction. Subsequent surveillance after the ½ lb transaction determined that PEREZ went to an apartment complex located on the 2600 block of Rollingwood Dr., San Pablo. Approximately one week later the undercover officer paid ESPARZA for the ½ lb of “ice”. Later that same month, after further negotiations with ESPARZA, the undercover officer again met with PEREZ in Pinole. PEREZ again “fronted” the undercover officer approximately one pound of “ice”. Approximately 10 days later the undercover officer met with PEREZ and gave him partial payment for the pound of “ice”.
According to the affidavit made in support of the criminal complaint, the second investigation began in August 2006. In September 2006, HUERTA “fronted” an undercover officer two pounds of “ice” in Richmond.
The investigations culminated on September 27, 2006 after HUERTA agreed to meet the undercover officer at a location in Richmond. Upon HUERTA’s arrival, agents took him into custody without incident. At the time of his arrest HUERTA was allegedly in possession of approximately a ½ lb “ice”. Later that same day, ESPARZA agreed to meet the undercover officer at a location in Richmond. When ESPARZA arrived at the location he was taken into custody by law enforcement without incident. On that same date, agents served a federal search warrant on an apartment located on the 2600 block of Rollingwood Dr., San Pablo. At the apartment, agents arrested PEREZ without incident and seized approximately 13 lbs of “ice” from his residence.
HUERTA, ESPARZA and PEREZ had their initial appearance in federal court today. HUERTA, ESPARZA and PEREZ are all charged with violations of Title 21 United States Code (“USC”) Section 841(a)(1) – distribution of methamphetamine. The maximum statutory penalty for distribution of methamphetamine is a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. ESPARZA and PEREZ are also charged with violations of Title 21 USC Section 846 – conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine is a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, San Francisco Police Department, Western Contra Costa County Narcotics Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Richmond Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, in San Francisco. The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.