Drug Enforcement Administration

San Diego

John W. Callery, Special Agent in Charge

January 11, 2016

Contact: Kameron Korte

Phone Number: (571) 324-6204

Patriarch Of Family Drug Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty

Faces 35 Year Sentence for Distribution of Fentanyl, Cocaine, Meth and Heroin

SAN DIEGO - On January 7, 2016, Hugo Adalberto Adrian Ramirez pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl in connection with a family drug trafficking ring that he directed.

According to admissions in court and in his plea agreement, Ramirez conspired with family members, including his wife, sister, two adult children, and nephew, to distribute controlled substances within Southern California and to various locations throughout the United States, including the New York/New Jersey area and North Carolina.

According to his plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of no more than 35 years.

Ramirez directed and participated in all aspects of the conspiracy, including acquiring and negotiating the sale of controlled substances, conducting and directing counter-surveillance of law enforcement, and collecting drug proceeds.  As a part of the conspiracy, Ramirez frequently changed his cellular telephone in a failed attempt to thwart law enforcement.

“It is important that the residents of San Diego are aware of the danger of this powerful and potentially lethal drug,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “DEA will continue to investigate and arrest distributors and manufacturers of this poison.  It is marketed as a better high than heroin, but this clandestinely manufactured fentanyl is hundreds of times more potent than heroin.”

Ramirez also used his minor children to promote the conspiracy, including directing minor children to run errands, pass messages, and conduct counter-surveillance of law enforcement officers investigating Ramirez’s activities.

Ramirez admitted to organizing numerous shipments of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin to sub-distributors in North Carolina, including approximately 6.6 kilograms of methamphetamine and 57.4 grams of heroin seized by law enforcement agents in August 2014.  Ramirez also admitted to the distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and fentanyl to sub-distributors in New Jersey, including approximately 3 kilograms of cocaine and 1 kilogram of fentanyl seized by law enforcement agents in May 2014.

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.  Authorities across the country have noted an increase in fatal overdoses of heroin that is spiked with fentanyl.

Ramirez’s guilty plea marks the 12th guilty plea in this case. 

Participating agencies in the investigation were the 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, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

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