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Multi-agency drug investigation in California leads to 12 arrests

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California reported on Dec. 6 that a multi-agency drug trafficking investigation has led to the indictment of 12 individuals by a federal grand jury. The individuals were taken into custody during several operations in November following an investigation involving the Fresno and Salinas Police Departments, the San Bernardino and Kings County Sheriff’s Departments, the California Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The major breakthrough in the investigation, which was launched by the FPD in 2018, was made when DEA agents identified a 61-year-old Fresno man as a wholesale distributor of illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Wiretaps were then used to identify the man’s associates. These allegedly included a 42-year-old Fresno man who is described in court papers as an illegal narcotics broker who distributed drugs using associates in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Monterey counties. Agents also concluded that the drugs were being smuggled into the United States from narcotics traffickers working out of Mexicali, Mexico.

The 12 suspects have been charged with counts including drug possession, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and narcotics trafficking. They face mandatory minimum sentences of between five years and 10 years in a federal prison. Some of the more serious charges carry a possible life sentence.

While the penalties for drug trafficking can be severe, the evidence gathered by police officers and federal agents to support them is not always admissible in court. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have narcotics charges reduced or dismissed when law enforcement may have infringed on rights protected by the Fourth Amendment during their investigations.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, “12 Charged with Narcotics Trafficking Offenses”, Press release, Dec. 6, 2019

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.