MAY 01 (LOS ANGELES)–A federal investigation into a drug-trafficking organization led by two brothers who oversaw the distribution of cocaine to Italy and across the United States – as well as methamphetamine being trafficked across the U.S. – has led to the indictment of nine people, three of whom were arrested this morning.
The investigation, which culminated with a seven-count indictment being returned by a federal grand jury on April 24, resulted in the seizure of approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine being smuggled into Italy from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. That cocaine was being smuggled by female drug couriers allegedly recruited by two Urena brothers, who were assisted by their uncle Francisco Javier Vargas-Oseguera and others. The investigation also uncovered a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout the United States through the use of vehicles with hidden compartments.
The indictment also alleges that members of the narcotics-trafficking operation laundered drug proceeds from the Dominican Republic through the use of Western Union wire transfers sent to Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga.
Operation “Family Guy” is the product of an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, which is coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and is comprised of agents with DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and IRS - Criminal Investigation. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Whittier Police Department also participated in this investigation.
Those named in the indictment unsealed this morning are:
The defendants arrested this morning are expected to be arraigned on the indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
The indictment specifically charges eight defendants (not Duarte) with conspiracy to distribute cocaine to Italy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Six of the defendants (not Agredano Vasquez, Martin or Ford) are charged in another conspiracy involving the domestic distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, a charge that also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.Various defendants are also named in a charge that alleges the distribution of approximately one pound of methamphetamine, three counts of use of a communication facility in committing a felony drug offense, and conspiracy to launder money.