News Release
Date: May 07, 2012
Contact: Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Number: 602 664-5725

Five Members of Methamphetamine Drug Trafficking Organization Plead Guilty
--Large Quantities of Methamphetamine, Dozens of Assault Rifles, Handguns Seized in DEA-led Investigation of Ortega-Ruano Drug Trafficking Organization--

May 7 (Phoenix, AZ) – Last week, five individuals, all from Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal district court to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine:

  • May 1, 2012 - Cruz Ortega-Ruano, 30;
  • May 3, 2012 - Gerardo Diarte-Lara, 27;
  • May 4, 2012 - Artemio Pena-Torrecillas, 25; Francisco Torrecillas-Torres, 38; and Juan Martin Tapia-Bernal, 44.

All of the defendants had been charged with having committed federal drug possession and distribution offenses, money laundering offenses, and weapons crimes. According to court documents, between January 2011 and April 2011, Ortega-Ruano was the head of the Ortega-Ruano Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), a Phoenix-based DTO.

The Ortega-Ruano DTO was responsible for the distribution of pound-quantities of methamphetamine and the collection of narcotics proceeds. Pena-Torrecillas, Diarte-Lara, Torrecillas-Torres, and Tapia-Bernal assisted the DTO by acting as facilitators, stash house operators, and couriers. Through the investigation into this DTO, law enforcement seized approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine, over $200,000.00, 60 assault rifles and handguns, gun magazines, ammunition, bayonets, and vehicles from members of the DTO. 

A conviction for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $10,000,000.00 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Frederick J. Martone will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. Judge Martone, however, is not bound by those guidelines In determining a sentence.

All five men are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Martone on September 10, 2012.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Mesa Police Department, the Tempe Police Department, the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution is being handled by Jonell L. Lucca and Keith E. Vercauteren, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.