News Release
November 18, 2008
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-1162

Operation Cut Throat Nets Additional Arrests

NOV 18 -- (BOISE, ID) – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Arnold R. Moorin and the United States Attorney for the District of Idaho, Thomas E. Moss, announced that on November 10, 2008, five more suspects were arrested and charged federally in connection with a year-long investigation in southeast Idaho, “Operation Cut Throat”. The defendants are charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The conspiracy counts are punishable by ten years to life in prison.

Over several days, agents with Boise DEA and U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and detectives with the Idaho State Police and Madison, Bonneville, Jefferson, and Fremont counties arrested Manuel Varela-Zambrano, 33, Rigby, Idaho; Peter Harper, 18, Rexburg, Idaho; Abel Olivas Hernandez, 36, Felt, Idaho; and Fernando Rodriquez, 38, and Abelardo Martinez, 29, both of St. Anthony, Idaho. During the arrests, law enforcement seized three hand guns, one 12-gauge shotgun, methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The investigation began in 2007 when the Boise DEA and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office infiltrated the organization by purchasing methamphetamine and cocaine. Ultimately, numerous key members were identified to include the Idaho leader, Esteban Rojas-Perez, who was based in Rexburg, Idaho. Multi-jurisdictional task forces continued to gather information about the Rojas-Perez organization.

In June 2008, the investigation identified that Santos-Rojas, the Seattle leader, was working collectively with Rojas-Perez to obtain methamphetamine and cocaine from Mexico, which was transported through California to the Pacific Northwest. Money was then sent back to Mexico, often in vehicles with concealed compartments. In September 2008, aware of a major cocaine delivery, Idaho law enforcement moved in and made arrests. Currently, 20 subjects have been indicted in Idaho and additional arrests are pending.