ELEVEN CHARGED WITH FEDERAL DRUG CRIMES;
U.S. Attorney Tom Moss and Drug Enforcement Administration Resident Agent in Charge Larry Hedberg today announced the arrests of eight people allegedly involved in a multi-state drug trafficking organization operating in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Mexico.
The arrests were made last night in Boise; Nampa; Caldwell; Yakima, Washington; and Ontario, Oregon. Simultaneously, federal search warrants were served at six locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Approximately 3.5 pounds of methamphetamine was seized. Three additional people were arrested on state charges as a result of the federal search warrants.
Arrested on federal charges were Maria Vidriezca-Guzman, 23, of Nampa; Alvaro Quintana-Ramirez, 35, of Nampa; Brenda Mendoza, 18, of Nampa; Maximiliano Lopez-Garcia, 23, of Caldwell; Kevin Blair, 35, of Caldwell; Gilberto Meza-Arechiga, of Ontario; Armando Santoyo-Meza, 19, of Nampa; and Jorge Flores, 23, of Sunnyside, Washington. Also charged but still at large are Christopher Johannessen, 26, of Caldwell; David Mason, 41, of Boise; and Francisco Gomez-Guevara, 27, of Nampa.
A 12-count complaint was filed in U.S. District Court this afternoon charging the 11 defendants with various drug offenses. Vidriezca-Guzman faces the most serious charges, including the operation of a Continuing Criminal Enterprise since 2003. Other charges are conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, distribution of methamphetamine and marijuana, and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Rodney G. Benson stated "The Drug Enforcement Administration, with our partners in law enforcement, will continue to target the largest and most violent drug trafficking organizations which operate locally, nationally, and internationally. The removal of this organization from the streets is certain to have a positive impact for our children and communities."
In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration, agencies involved in "Operation Lil Diva" were the Ada County Sheriff’s Office; the Boise Area Narcotics and Drug Interdiction Task Force (BANDIT); the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the U.S. Marshals Service; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the Nampa Police Department; the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office; the Ontario, Oregon, Police Department; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.
A complaint is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.