Riverside, California - Law enforcement authorities Wednesday arrested 12 defendants charged in a federal grand jury indictment alleging they conspired to traffic large quantities of methamphetamine from their suppliers in Mexico into and throughout the Inland Empire.
The 19-count indictment charges a total of 19 defendants with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, an offense that carries a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence and a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
During the takedown, 12 of the federal defendants were arrested. Three other defendants were already in federal or state custody on unrelated charges, and federal prosecutors will seek to have them brought into federal court. Four defendants are fugitives.
The defendants arrested today are expected to make their initial appearances in the United States District Court in Riverside and downtown Los Angeles.
According to the indictment returned on May 5 and unsealed today, from April to August 2020, lead defendants Timoteo Gomez, 48, of Riverside, and Javier Rodriguez, a.k.a. “Harvey,” 54, of Riverside, purchased methamphetamine from their suppliers in Mexico as well as Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Other alleged members of the conspiracy would further distribute methamphetamine in the Inland Empire.
The indictment details the conspirators’ efforts in April 2020 to smuggle 46.6 pounds (21.2 kilograms) of methamphetamine from Mexico across the U.S port of entry at Calexico and into Riverside County. In May 2020, another co-conspirator allegedly attempted to drive a load of 90.4 pounds (41 kilograms) of methamphetamine into the United States from Mexico through the San Ysidro port of entry.
In total, law enforcement seized more than 150 pounds (68 kilograms) of methamphetamine and $31,035 in cash during this investigation.
The indictment also charges some of the defendants with conspiracy to import methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and attempted international money laundering.
Two additional defendants were charged in separate indictments in March in connection with this case, bringing the number of defendants charged so far to 21. Both were arrested in April on charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are currently in federal custody. One has pleaded guilty and the other is awaiting trial.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI’s Inland Empire Safe Streets Task Force investigated this matter. The Task Force is a joint federal and state gang task force that includes the FBI; the Drug Enforcement Administration; IRS Criminal Investigation; the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; and the Riverside Police Department. The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force received assistance during the investigation from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service.
The investigation leading to these federal charges focused on the criminal activities of the Riverside-based Casa Blanca Rifa criminal street gang to combat drug trafficking and associated violence in Riverside and the surrounding community.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Trisotto of the Riverside Branch Office is prosecuting this case.