October 29, 2014
Contact: Kameron Korte
Phone Number: (571) 324-6204
DEA/Partners Take Down Alleged Cross-Country Drug Traffickers Dealing In Meth, Heroin, Cocaine, Fentanyl
SAN DIEGO - Fourteen alleged members of a cross-country drug trafficking organization are charged in a federal grand jury indictments with conspiring to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and ultra-dangerous fentanyl to locations throughout the United States.
Early yesterday morning, a contingent of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials arrested 11 people in Southern California, New York and North Carolina. Authorities also seized firearms while serving multiple search warrants yesterday. Three people remain fugitives.
A number of defendants are scheduled to make their first appearances in federal court in San Diego at either 10:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo.
According to an affidavit in the investigation, the organization, which allegedly had ties to the Sinaloa cartel, imported drugs from Mexico which were smuggled into San Diego and distributed by a network of traffickers based in California, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York.
During the investigation, authorities seized about 15 pounds of methamphetamine, four kilograms of cocaine and one kilogram of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate considered 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is typically administered to people in chronic pain, including end-stage cancer patients, and is also used as an anesthetic during surgery. Just a small amount - even a few grains - can be fatal.
“DEA and its law enforcement partners are working together to safeguard its citizens against this dangerous and lethal drug,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “Not only are the users at risk of overdosing, so are any persons, law enforcement personnel included, who come into direct contact with fentanyl. We are seeing traffickers mix fentanyl with heroin and calling it a ‘super high’, but in reality, just a few micrograms too much can be super deadly.”
Authorities across the country have noted an increase in fatal overdoses of heroin that is spiked with fentanyl. New Jersey, one of the distribution zones for this alleged drug trafficking organization, has been hit particularly hard.
The operation is described in an affidavit as a family drug trafficking organization. It was allegedly led by Hugo Adalberto Adrian Ramirez and included his wife, Maria Ayala; his son Hugo Norberto-Adrian Jr.; and his daughter, Crystal Adrian.
Ramirez’s wife allegedly collected drug proceeds in the form of structured deposits into bank accounts in her name and under her control.
Also charged is Sonja Shenelle Holder, a New York rapper known as “Sonja Blade.” Holder and another defendant, Paul Dwight Doyley, allegedly conspired to purchase cocaine and fentanyl from Ramirez and his son, Hugo Norberto-Adrian Jr. for distribution in New Jersey.
Earlier this year, Drug Enforcement Administration officials were so concerned about fentanyl abuse they issued a warning to local police about what they called “killer heroin,” a 50-50 mix of heroin and fentanyl. The DEA urged first responders to “exercise extreme caution” because fatal amounts of fentanyl can be directly absorbed through the skin just by touching it.
The DEA said dealers are marketing their fentanyl-laced drugs as a “Super High,” and they’re using names like “Bud Light,” “Theraflu,” and “Income Tax” to market the drug.
This investigation was conducted under the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) program. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against major drug trafficking.
DEFENDANTS - Criminal Case No: 14-CR-3057 -
Hugo Adalberto Adrian Ramirez 42 Corona, CA
*Hugo Norberto-Adrian Jr. 21 Corona, CA
**Paul Dwight Doyley 49 Ashbury Park, New Jersey
Sonja Shenelle Holder 37 Brooklyn, New York
**Victor Jesus Gastelum 44 Unknown
Sandra Bustos Juarez 32 Charlotte, North Carolina
Alberto Mina 38 Charlotte, North Carolina
Noe Mina 26 Charlotte, North Carolina
*Ricardo Mendoza 36 Ontario, CA
*Crystal Adrian 19 Corona, CA
*Ghazi Catalan 22 Unknown
*Marvin Ventura Soto 25 Huntington Park, CA
*Maria Ayala 44 Corona, CA
**Sara Gricelda Adrian 41 Corona, CA -
*Defendants who are expected to make their first appearances in federal court in San Diego today.
SUMMARY OF CHARGES -
Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances in violation of Title 21, U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846; Maximum Penalties: Life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a $10 million fine.
Drug Enforcement Administration
Bureau of Land Management
Internal Revenue Service
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
San Diego Police Department
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations
Fontana Police Department
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations