News Release
Date: June 21, 2010
Contact: Jodie Underwood
Number: (206) 553-5443

Federal Indictments On Three Salem-Area Drug Traffickers

JUN 21 -- (Salem) – DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Thomas and the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, Dwight C. Holton announced on June 17, 2010 the indictment of three individuals in connection with a long term investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration. On June 16, 2010, law enforcement officers from local, state, and federal agencies executed seven search warrants and arrested three people on federal drug and firearm charges in connection with a drug distribution organization based in Salem.

Since November 2008, officers from the DEA, Salem Police Department, Oregon State Police (OSP), Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Keizer Police Department, and Yamhill County Interagency Narcotics Team have been investigating this methamphetamine distribution organization. During the course of that investigation, agents seized high purity methamphetamine, two handguns and a rifle. The investigation culminated on June 16, 2010, with the execution of search warrants at three Salem area residences, an auto sales car lot, and three vehicles. At those locations, agents arrested the three individuals targeted in the investigation: Lazaro Bonilla-Mendez, Jean Carlo Chavarin, and Alejandro Renteria-Santana.

On June 17, 2010, Lazaro Bonilla-Mendez, 33, and Jean Carlo Chavarin, 20, were arraigned on a 15-count indictment charging them with a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine between November 2008 and June 2010. The conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a fine of four million dollars. Additionally, Bonilla-Mendez is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Alejandro Renteria-Santana, 33, is charged in a separate indictment with six counts of distributing methamphetamine between October 2009 and June 2010. Renteria-Santana’s charges carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment, and a fine of two million dollars.

All defendants pled not guilty to all charges, and the court detained each pending trial. An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Trial is set for August 24, 2010, in U.S. District Court.