News Release
August 28, 2009
Contact: Casey McEnry

Caruthers Drug Supplier Sentenced to
More Than 24 Years for Meth Conspiracy

AUG 28 -- FRESNO, Calif.—United States Attorney Lawrence G. Brown and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams, announced today that United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced JOSE ESQUIVEL MENDEZ, aka Alberto Perez-Lopez, 24, of Mexico, to 24 years and four months in prison for conspiring to distribute five pounds of high-purity crystal methamphetamine that he smuggled into the United States from Mexico for distribution in Caruthers, Calif.

This case is the product of a joint investigation by the DEA and Fresno Police Department with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar, who prosecuted the case, ESQUIVEL MENDEZ was sentenced following a jury trial in which ESQUIVEL MENDEZ was convicted of the drug conspiracy, possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and avoiding examination and examination by immigration officers.

The trial evidence showed that ESQUIVEL MENDEZ is an illegal alien who was previously arrested in San Diego for distributing crystal methamphetamine. The charges were not pursued there when ESQUIVEL MENDEZ claimed he was a juvenile. ESQUIVEL MENDEZ and his co-defendants, RIGOBERTO LOPEZ-AGUILAR, aka Salvador Martinez, aka Adrian Palomino, 37, of Caruthers, Calif., and MIGUEL ANGEL NUNEZ-BARRAGAN, 34, of Mexico, were later arrested on February 13, 2007, for attempting to sell the methamphetamine after LOPEZ-AGUILAR had negotiated for the delivery and sale of the drug. He had obtained the methamphetamine from NUNEZ-BARRAGAN, a previously deported illegal alien then residing in San Diego, who, in turn, obtained the drug from ESQUIVEL MENDEZ, who also had residences in San Diego and Tijuana.

According to the trial evidence, ESQUIVEL MENDEZ arranged to have the methamphetamine smuggled into the United States after protracted negotiations during which LOPEZ-AGUILAR correctly acknowledged increased security at the United States/Mexico border. Mexico is the primary source of methamphetamine in U.S. markets.

LOPEZ-AGUILAR and NUNEZ-BARRAGAN previously entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to 14 years and 6 years in prison, respectively.

All defendants are subject to deportation after they serve their prison sentences.

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