News Release
August 11, 2010
Casey McEnry

Visalia Crystal Meth Trafficker Receives 20 Year Sentence
Case Connected to Largest Drug Seizure in Maui County History

AUG 11
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and DEA Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Division, Anthony D. Williams announced today that Senior U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger sentenced Rodolfo F. Suarez Jr. 26, of Visalia, to 20 years in prison, following a jury verdict last April finding Suarez guilty of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute crystal methamphetamine and cocaine.

According to the evidence at trial, the drug trafficking conspiracy was headed by Eustorgio Flores, 50, of Tulare, and involved the shipment of large quantities of high purity crystal methamphetamine and cocaine by commercial airlines for distribution in Maui. Over six pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 18 pounds of cocaine, and $114,000 in cash were seized in Maui, representing the largest drug seizure in Maui County (the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai) history. Judge Wanger found that Suarez was “an active participant” in the drug conspiracy and based his sentence, in part, on the fact that Suarez had a prior felony drug conviction.

Flores and a co-conspirator convicted at trial, Pioquinto Larios Santacruz, aka Noe Rios, 51, also of Tulare, are scheduled for sentencing before Judge Wanger on August 23.
Five additional defendants entered guilty pleas before trial:

  • Flores’s wife, Hortencia Flores, 46, of Tulare, has been sentenced to four years in prison for using a telephone to facilitate felony drug trafficking crimes.
  • Reyes Chaparro-Flores, 51, of Farmersville, is scheduled for sentencing on August 30, 2010 for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
  • Abel Remigio-Onofre, 50, of Visalia, has been sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison for attempting to distribute crystal methamphetamine. His wife, Sylvia Lopez, 37, has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for concealing a felony.
  • Leobardo Gonzalez-Gonzalez, aka Leopoldo Correa Orozco, 35, of Farmersville, was sentenced in January 2009 to four years in prison for using a telephone to facilitate a felony drug transaction.

This case is a product of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) effort, an interagency program that investigates and prosecutes the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the U.S. by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. OCDETF task force members in this case include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Maui and Tulare Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen A. Escobar and Deanna L. Martinez are prosecuting the case.