Leader of Anchorage Drug Ring Convicted of Conspiracy and Possessing Machine Guns and Firearms
JUN 28 -- (Anchorage, AK) – On June 18, 2010, a federal jury in Anchorage convicted Juan Manuel Mendiola, 28, of all eight counts which he was charged, including drug conspiracy, distribution of crack cocaine, possession of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin with intent to distribute, possession of firearms and machine guns in furtherance of drug conspiracy, illegal possession of machine guns, and a second charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The maximum penalties for the drug conspiracy charge include a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison, a $4 million fine, and at least five years of supervised release. The possession of machine guns in furtherance of drug trafficking carries a mandatory 30 year consecutive sentence, and the second conviction of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory 25 year consecutive sentence. Mendiola was ordered to forfeit the firearms, a Cadillac, and over $50,000 in cash.
On June 7, 2010, the trial began and testimony from thirty-eight witnesses revealed that Mendiola was the leader of the drug conspiracy. Mendiola was linked to a March 2007 seized parcel in California that was destined for an address in the Muldoon section of Anchorage. The parcel contained six kilograms of cocaine and one pound of methamphetamine. Testimony also revealed that Mendiola sourced cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine to accomplice Bernard White, during an Anchorage Police Department (APD) investigation in October 2007. During the arrest of White on October 31, 2007, a search warrant was executed at a house on the lower hillside in Anchorage, and recovered approximately ½ kilogram of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and five firearms, including two MAC-10 machine guns, a Keltec rifle, and two semi-automatic pistols. Mendiola and accomplice Phonesavanh Vongthongdy had just left the residence prior to the search warrant and were linked to the firearms and the drugs.
Testimony at trial revealed that after these seizures, Mendiola and his girlfriend, Seirosa Milo, imposed a curfew on another accomplice that they feared would cooperate with police. When the accomplice broke curfew on one occasion, he was beaten by other members of the conspiracy. The accomplice’s father reported the incident to the Anchorage Police as a kidnapping, and the SWAT team responded. Upon approaching the residence, a police officer looking through the window saw Mendiola coming to the door with a gun in his hand. A five-hour standoff ensured and ultimately a police dog was sent into the residence. Mendiola came out of the residence with his seven-year old son in front of him. The police dog jumped around the boy and bit Mendiola. Inside the residence, police found crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
Mendiola was released after his initial arrest and subsequently became a fugitive. On September 19, 2008, the APD Special Assignment Unit tracked the defendant to an address in Mountain View and obtained a search warrant. Mendiola was found inside the residence with accomplice Timothy Moore. Officers seized one kilogram of crystal meth, ten ounces of heroin, two loaded semi-automatic pistols, drug paraphernalia and approximately $50,000 in case. Mendiola was arrested, and then indicted in federal court.
The investigation of Mendiola spanned three years, from July 2005 through September 2008 and was conducted by the following agencies: The Drug Enforcement Administration, Anchorage Police Department’s Drug Enforcement and Special Assignments Units, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives, and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force. The federal prosecution was also assisted by employees funded by the municipality of Anchorage’s Anti-Gang and Youth Violence grant.