Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

August 21, 2013

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Seven Arrested In Butte County Methamphetamine Trafficking Investigation: Operation Crystal Ball

OROVILLE, Calif. - The Drug Enforcement Administration Sacramento District Office in cooperation with the Butte County Interagency Narcotics Task (BINTF) arrested seven defendants on federal charges and executed eight federal search warrants today.  A ten month long investigation of a methamphetamine trafficking organization culminated with these warrants, announced Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin Wagner.

Arrested today were Federico Sandoval Aguilar and Alejandro Lopez-Corona of Biggs, California; Manuel Garcia Navarro; and Rafael Morfin-Medina, Rickey Lee Xiong, Sou Xiong, and Cindy Lee Hunter, all of Oroville, CA.  Five defendants, Guillermo Ventura-Lopez, David Milton Eleazar, Neng Chue Xiong, Pao Thao, and Jaime Dominguez, were not located and are considered fugitives.

Approximately ten pounds of methamphetamine, five firearms including one stolen weapon, and more than $70,000 of drug proceeds were seized as a result of these arrest and search warrants.

 “DEA’s mission is to stop criminal organizations from selling drugs in our communities.  Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug severely affecting the health of our neighbors, and its abuse is frequently a motivating factor behind the violence and criminal activity that residents encounter.  We will assist our law enforcement partners and provide resources to prosecute those who endanger the honest and hard-working citizens of Butte County,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge, Bruce C. Balzano.

The complaint alleges that Federico Aguilar was the head of an organization distributing methamphetamine in Butte County and within the Eastern District of California.  This organization was identified through information provided by confidential sources, surveillance of the organization’s members, drug purchases made by undercover law enforcement officers, and court authorized wiretaps of Aguilar and his associates.  The complaint alleges that couriers transported pound quantities of methamphetamine from Mexico to Butte County and at the direction of Aguilar, members of the organization then sold these drugs to local associates for further distribution and sale.

This case began with information developed by officers of the BINTF who asked the Sacramento office of the Drug Enforcement Administration to join the investigation.  Other participating agencies included the California Highway Patrol, Butte County Sheriff’s Office, Chico Police Department, Butte County Probation Department, Butte County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Please note, a complaint contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, those mentioned in the press release must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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