June 19, 2015
Contact: SA John Leonard
Phone Number: 314-538-4600
40 Charged, Huge Cash And Drug Seizures Of Organization Tied To Murders
$2.1 million, 82 lbs of meth, 12 kilograms of cocaine, 5 kilograms of heroin, 1,000 lbs of marijuana seized
ST. LOUIS - DEA St. Louis Special Agent in Charge James P. Shroba announced today the results of a successful DEA investigation that yielded over 50 federal indictments for a nationwide drug trafficking organization. The enforcement operation yielded over $2 million in cash, 82 pounds of methamphetamine, 5 kilograms of heroin, 12 kilograms of cocaine, and over 1,000 pounds of marijuana. In addition, several murders were connected to members of this violent criminal network.
According to Special Agent in Charge Shroba, this drug trafficking organization operated over multiple Midwest and East Coast states with drug shipments origination from either McAllen through Houston and/or from Southern California.
“This is DEA and our partners at our finest: relentlessly pursuing and dismantling a huge drug trafficking organization with violent tentacles throughout the St. Louis region,” said Shroba. “This organization had established a network of rural properties to conceal the storage of and distribution of drugs in the regional areas huge amounts of cocaine, meth, marijuana, and heroin to various distribution points.”
The investigation identified that the organization has been responsible for at least three past murders in Kentucky, and one of the organizational members associated with St. Louis and Riverside was murdered in California during the investigation.
Seven of the defendants were charged in the Eastern District of Missouri: Daniel Gonzalez-Ortiz, Joe Caudillo, Randy Jones, Theole Smith, Devin Farrow, Carlota Castenda, and Ivan Saldana. They were charged in an indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in St. Louis, Missouri on May 19, 2015. That indictment was unsealed and made public following the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
The federal indictment alleges that each of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and Title 21, United States Code, Section 846.
The indictment further alleges that , Randy Jones, Theole Smith, Devin Farrow, Carlota Castenda, did knowingly and intentionally possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 kilograms of marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance. All are in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
Additional counts in the indictment allege that Theole Smith did knowingly possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime for which he may be prosecuted for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana as charged in Count I of the Indictment; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A); and Randy Jones and Daniel Gonzalez-Ortiz did conspire, combine, confederate and agree with others known and unknown, to commit offenses against the United States, to wit: (a) to knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions; (b) which in fact involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, to wit: the conspiracy to distribute marijuana in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846; (c) knowing that the transactions were designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of such specified unlawful activity; (d) while conducting and attempting to conduct said financial transactions, the defendants knew that the funds involved in the financial transactions represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require all of the defendants, jointly and severally, to forfeit to the government any proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged violation.
During the 18-month investigation, the St. Louis Field Division worked jointly with other DEA offices in Kentucky, Ohio, California, Texas, Georgia and Washington state.