Drug Enforcement Administration


Keith Martin (Acting), Special Agent in Charge

August 06, 2015

Contact: Brian McNeal

Phone Number: (571) 362-1498

Leader Of Large Poly-Drug Trafficking Organization With Direct Ties To Mexican Cartel Receives Sentence Of 29 Years In Federal Prison

Alberto Lara-Chavez was head of 19 person conspiracy responsible for distributing heroin and marijuana throughout Kentucky and Ohio; all co-conspirators have been sentenced; evidence in trial indicated that many of co-conspirators were in USA illegally.

COVINGTON, Ky. - The leader of a large drug trafficking operation, that distributed large quantities of heroin and marijuana in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio, has been sentenced to 353 months in federal prison.

Today, U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar sentenced Alberto Lara-Chavez, 45, of Pasadena, Calif., for conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana; distribution of heroin; distribution of marijuana; possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking; possession of a firearm by an illegal alien; conspiracy to launder money; and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.  Judge Thapar also sentenced Lara-Chavez’s son, Jose Alberto Lara, 23, of Planada, Calif., to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.  Under federal law both defendants must serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences.

Those two, along with Felix Agundiz-Montes, were convicted in March of 2015, following a nine-day jury trial.  The evidence at trial established that, from October 2012, through May 16, 2014, Lara-Chavez led a group of 19 individuals who conspired to distribute heroin and marijuana in Kenton Boone, Campbell, Gallatin, and Grant Counties in Kentucky, as well as Hamilton, Brown, and Clermont Counties in Ohio. 

The evidence at trial also established that the group shipped marijuana, from Texas and California, to locations in Ohio and Kentucky; the group operated a large marijuana field in Sardinia, Ohio; and brought heroin, from Columbus, Ohio, to northern Kentucky for distribution.

Court records and evidence further showed that, during the course of the conspiracy, many of the conspirators were not legally present in the United States and had been brought here, by other conspirators, to sell narcotics; many illegally possessed firearms to protect the drugs and drug proceeds; and the leaders conspired to launder funds from the operation through bank deposits, wire transfers, and casino activity.  Several of the conspirators also claimed they were associated with a Mexican drug cartel.  

Lara-Chavez was the leader of the group and directed its local activities.  All of his co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced for their roles.  

Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Joseph Reagan, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’(DEA) Detroit Field Division, jointly made the announcement.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, the United States Postal Investigation Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force.  The United States was represented in this case by Assistant United States Attorney Tony Bracke.

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