August 26, 2016
Contact: Casey Rettig
Phone Number: (415) 436-7994
Sixteen Defendants Charged In Criminal Complaints Alleging Broad-Ranging Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
SAN FRANCISCO - A total of 16 defendants have been named thus far in a federal criminal complaint alleging a broad-ranging criminal conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs in both the Eastern and Northern Districts of California, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, San Ramon Police Department Chief Joe Gorton, and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin. The complaint, unsealed today, and related documents filed in the Eastern District of California allege that the following defendants participated in the conspiracy:
- Oscar Vladimir Escalante, aka “Cuddy,” aka “Hoggy”
- Melina Patricia Escalante
- Claudia Munoz
- Jorge Gomez, aka “George”
- Alfredo Guadalupe Ortiz, aka “Pep”
- David Vigil aka “Chepp,” aka “Carlos”
- Julian Marc Reayoung, aka “Marcus”
- Christian Victor Vanleer, aka “Buggy,” aka “Buggy B”
- Michael Anthony Vicochea, aka “Mikey,” aka "Money Mike"
- Ignacio Gonzalez, aka “Pelon”
- Daniel Medina-Garay;
- Adam Mustafa Abdelwahhab
- Louis Ramirez, aka “Louie”
- Joel Salcedo
- Sean Constantine Chin, aka “Miami”
- James Hinkle, aka “Big Jim”
According to the complaint, the defendants all were part of a conspiracy whose objective was to distribute large quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription pills. The conspirators also maintained marijuana grow houses in San Francisco, Oakland, Antioch, Discovery Bay, Tracy, and Delano, California.
According to the complaint, Oscar Escalente orchestrated many aspects of the alleged conspiracy, including working with an armorer to modify firearms so as to make them fully automatic for use in furtherance of the conspiracy. The complaint also describes the various roles that the defendants allegedly played in the conspiracy. The allegations set out the following:
- Melina Escalante, Oscar’s wife, assisted him in laundering the proceeds of his drug business;
- Claudia Munoz, Oscar’s girlfriend, managed utilities and rental of real property for the grow houses;
- Jorge Gomez managed a number of the grow houses;
- David Vigil managed cultivation in a grow house and supplied methamphetamine;
- Alfredo Ortiz assisted in the operations at four grow houses;
- Julian Reayoung distributed heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana;
- Christian Vanleer distributed heroin, cocaine, and alprazolam;
- Michael Vicochea operated a grow house and distributed methamphetamine;
- Ignacio Gonzalez managed a grow house and collected money from people who received drugs;
- Daniel Medina-Garay distributed heroin and functioned as a street-level dealer;
- Adam Abdelwahhab modified firearms to make them fully automatic and then supplied them to the conspirators;
- Louis Ramirez assisted in growing and distributing marijuana and concentrated cannabis;
- Joel Salcedo supplied heroin and methamphetamine to Oscar Escalante and Michael Vicochea;
- Sean Chin was involved with at least one marijuana grow; and
- James Hinkle assisted with growing and transporting marijuana plants.
All the defendants were charged with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam, and 100 or more marijuana plants, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; and illegal use of a communication facility, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). In addition, Oscar Escalante, Vicochea, Abdelwahhab, and Salcedo were charged with possession of a machine gun, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); and Oscar and Melina Escalante, Munoz, Reayoung, and Vicochea were charged with money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846 is 40 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $5,000,000; the maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) is four years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000; the maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(o) is 10 years; and the maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) is 20 years. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Yesterday, the DEA made 17 arrests and searched at least 14 locations in coordinated activity. The defendants are scheduled to make the following appearances for detention hearings:
All appearances will be made before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore except Vigil and Hinkle who will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone, in Sacramento and Salcedo who will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu in San Jose.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA, the San Ramon Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the Marin County Sheriff and the Oakland Police Department.