COACHELLA – Nearly a dozen who were allegedly involved in a Coachella Valley-based methamphetamine ring, which trafficked large (wholesale) quantities of the illicit drugs have been arrested. While there are sixteen named in the indictment that was a result of a 2 ½ year wiretap investigation, three were already in custody, and five are fugitives; three believed to be in Mexico. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on June 14, 2018, and as a result, 8 arrests were made on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
Operation “Narco Navigator”, the name Drug Enforcement Administration referred to the investigation as targeted the distribution network which sent narcotics to local sellers and out-of-state buyers. Over 50 pounds of methamphetamine and four firearms were confiscated as a result of the investigation. Those arrested include. Raul Lopez-Valenzuela, 42, of Coachella. Lopez-Valenzuela is not a U.S. citizen and is believed to be the leader of the drug trafficking organization.
The others arrested include:
- Balbino Valenzuela-Verdugo, also known as “Manuel,” 42, of Coachella, an illegal alien who is currently a fugitive and who allegedly was the primary distributor for the drug ring;
- Antonio Zamora, also known as “Foca,” 30, of Coachella, who currently is a fugitive and allegedly was a supplier of narcotics for the drug organization – including approximately 16 pounds of methamphetamine seized in 2015 and 2016;
- Jesus Garcia, also known as “Chuy,” 37, of Coachella, who allegedly was another supplier of narcotics to the Lopez-Valenzuela organization;
- Ernesto Alonzo Flores, also known as “Negro,” 36, of Coachella, another person who allegedly supplied narcotics to the drug ring – including approximately 24 pounds of methamphetamine seized from Valenzuela-Verdugo in 2016;
- Jesus Ramirez Granados, also known as “Chuy2,” 35, of Coachella, an illegal alien who allegedly distributed narcotics on behalf of the Lopez-Valenzuela drug trafficking organization;
- Daniel Kenneth Dalpezzo, 48, of Yucca Valley, who allegedly was a significant customer of the drug ring, purchasing large quantities of methamphetamine for further distribution;
- Charmaine Raygina Florio, 53, of Cathedral City, who is Dalpezzo’s former wife and allegedly purchased methamphetamine from the drug ring along with Dalpezzo;
- Tracy Cross, 45, of Palm Desert, who was already in custody;
- Alejandro Jose Rojas, 36, of Palm Springs, who was already in custody;
- Anthony Osteen, 38, of La Mesa, who allegedly worked with Rojas to coordinate obtaining narcotics;
- Roland Roe, 46, of Palm Springs, who was already in custody and who allegedly arranged for the supply of narcotics for at least one other defendant;
- Warren Barry, 54, of La Quinta, currently a fugitive, who allegedly was a courier for Lopez-Valenzuela, who was carrying a load of more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine that was seized by law enforcement authorities in late 2015 in Nebraska;
- Jason Sills, 37, of Palm Springs, an alleged distributor of narcotics in the Coachella Valley; and
- Ruben Arredondo-Diaz, 53, of Lexington, Nebraska, who is currently a fugitive and who allegedly arranged the distribution of drugs in Nebraska.
Each defendant, who was accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, if convicted as charged, may face up to life in federal prison. “The second indictment unsealed today charges Sills and Salvador Lemus Ramos, also known as “Eddie,” 39, of Palm Springs, who is also a fugitive, with distributing methamphetamine,” Department of Justice Officials said. “The indictment describes a transaction in late 2015 in Cathedral City involving two pounds of methamphetamine where the buyer was an undercover DEA agent.”
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