August 07, 2019
Contact: Casey Rettig
Phone Number: (415) 436-7994
Nine defendants charged in international drug trafficking conspiracy
Complaint describes drug dealers with ties to Mexico and Honduras who transported drugs from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and Seattle
SAN FRANCISCO – United States Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen and United States Attorney David L. Anderson announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged nine defendants, many members of the same family, with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The charges were made in a complaint filed July 26, 2019, and unsealed today following the arrest of eight defendants.
The complaint, described by U.S. Attorney Anderson in a press conference today, is one of the first steps in the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin (FIT). The initiative seeks to reduce crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.
The complaint describes a conspiracy involving a large-scale drug trafficking organization with a network extending across the Bay Area. According to the complaint, between March 4, 2019 and July 26, 2019, Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos, a/k/a “Rojo,” worked with his family members Victor Viera-Chirinos, a/k/a “Mojarra”; Jorge Alberto Viera-Chirinos; Jorge Enrique Torres-Viera, a/k/a “Enrique”; and Karen Castro-Torres, a/k/a “Delany Ellieth Cardona Velasquez,” a/k/a “Belanie Elyzabeth Artiaga,” to obtain drugs. The defendants brought the drugs from Mexico through Los Angeles to the Bay Area. The defendants then repackaged the drugs for redistribution both in the Bay Area and in Seattle. The complaint also describes the execution of search warrants in June 2018 by the Richmond and San Francisco Police Departments and how Jorge Alberto Viera-Chirinos thereafter remained in the Bay Area to run the family drug-trafficking business while Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos and his partner, Karen Castro-Torres, moved to Seattle.
Also described in the complaint is how Karen Castro Torres, Cilder Velasquez, and Jorge Enrique Torres-Viera coordinated housing for individuals who redistributed drugs for the drug trafficking organization. Drug redistributors, including Gustavo Adolfo Gamez-Velasquez and Luis Almicar Erazo-Centeno, allegedly placed orders for drugs on a regular basis from Cilder Velasquez and Jorge Enrique Torres-Viera. The complaint includes excerpts from calls and text messages intercepted over federally-authorized wiretaps. According to the complaint, the Viera family obtained drugs in Los Angeles, packaged them for local redistribution in Livermore, Calif., and then shipped the drugs to the Seattle area. Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos, speaking with an individual using a Honduras-based area code, also allegedly plotted to murder an individual in Honduras. The complaint also describes a traffic stop in Washington State during which Alexander Gonzalez-Vasquez and Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos allegedly concealed cocaine and heroin in a hidden compartment inside Gonzalez’s truck.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen stated, “Street level drug dealing has, unfortunately, become somewhat ‘normalized’ in the Tenderloin. As for me and my law enforcement partners, and I suspect most people in this community, we are tired of drug traffickers preying on and profiting from the vulnerable. This case and the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin is a sustained effort, and we are focused on drug dealers, their sources of supply and anyone else who assists them, while keeping in mind we need to help those suffering from addiction. Our message is simple: We will continue to do our best to prevent these bold criminals from destroying any more lives. There is much work to be done.”
All defendants are charged with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). If convicted, defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment and between three years and a lifetime term of supervised release. Further, additional fines, forfeitures, and restitution may be ordered; however, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The complaint contains allegations only, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Several of the defendants were arrested on July 26, 2019, as part of a criminal enforcement operation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Garcia, Sailaja Paidipaty, and Ryan Rezaei are prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA, San Francisco Police Department, and Richmond Police Department.