DOJ – South CA

DOJ - Department of Justice
DOJ - Department of Justice
  • Fifth Defendant Pleads Guilty to Laundering Millions of Dollars of Drug Proceeds for Sinaloa Cartel
    Assistant U. S. Attorney Larry Casper (619) 546-6734     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY April 18, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Gibran Rodriguez-Mejia of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to international money laundering in connection with his operation of a currency exchange house that received the proceeds of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin smuggled into the United States by the Sinaloa Cartel. Rodriguez, who was extradited from Mexico to San Diego in September 2018, is the fifth defendant in this case to enter a guilty plea.     Through his plea agreement, Rodriguez admitted to laundering $3.5 million in drug proceeds. He coordinated with couriers, primarily located in Southern California, who smuggled the bulk U.S. currency from the United States to Mexico.  Rodriguez also admitted that he arranged for currency to be smuggled to an exchange house in Tijuana, Mexico owned and operated by co-defendant Cesar Hernandez-Martinez, who also recently entered a guilty plea in the case.  After the money was converted to Mexican pesos, Mejia provided financial accounts in Mexico into which the money was deposited for the benefit of the Mexican-based cartel drug traffickers. In addition to the five defendants in this case, approximately twenty other individuals have entered guilty pleas and been sentenced previously in related cases. Rodriguez pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin. Rodriguez will be sentenced on July 8 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez.  Rodriguez faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $7 ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-17
    2 days ago
  • Jury Convicts Three Men of Trafficking $28 Million of Cocaine
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mokhtari (619) 546-8402, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Fitzwater (619) 546-8756, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Gibbons (619) 546-8419 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – April 17, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Three South American men were convicted by a federal jury late yesterday of trafficking approximately 1,230 kilograms (2,706 pounds) of cocaine worth more than $28 million on the high seas. The verdict came after a weeklong trial before U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez.   At trial, the government proved that on December 31, 2017, a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter responded to a report of a suspicious vessel traveling in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, approximately 100 nautical miles north of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton launched a helicopter and two small boats to intercept the vessel. As the helicopter closed in, the defendants – Adrian Andres Cortez-Quinonez, Segundo Marcial Dominguez-Caicedo  and Victor Gaspar-Chichande – stopped their go-fast vessel to avoid detection. But as the helicopter circled the vessel, the defendants attempted to evade the helicopter.  The defendants eventually brought their vessel to a stop when they could not outrun the Coast Guard helicopter and then began jettisoning dozens of bails of cocaine overboard. They took off again, but a U.S. Coast Guard marksman onboard the helicopter disabled the fleeing vessel’s engines with precision. The Coast Guard detained the defendants and recovered the jettisoned cocaine. After the defendants were transported to the United States, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration continued the investigation. “The ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-16
    3 days ago
  • San Marcos Companies and Executives Charged with Tampering with Emission Control Devices on Diesel Truck Fleet
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson (619) 546-7976 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – April 11, 2019 SAN DIEGO – A federal grand jury in San Diego today returned a six-count indictment charging three San Marcos companies, two managers and a technician with various felonies related to tampering with emission control devices on heavy-duty diesel trucks. Diamond Environmental Services LP, Diamond Maintenance Services, LLC and Diamond Solid Waste, Inc. (collectively “Diamond”) of San Marcos, California, plus owner and manager Arie Eric De Jong III,  manager Warren Van Dam and technician Jorge Leyva Rodriguez of ECM Diesel Programming were charged with conspiring to manipulate the electronic control module (ECM) on Diamond’s fleet of heavy duty diesel trucks.  The alleged manipulation was designed to disable the monitoring system that would otherwise cause the truck to effectively become non-operational if the diesel emissions filter became too dirty with diesel particulates.  Since model year 2008, EPA regulations required all heavy-duty diesel trucks to be equipped with a computerized system of electronics and sensors that monitored all emission-related engine systems and components.  If a malfunction or problem occurred within the emission system - for example, the diesel particulate filter, or DPF, became dirty with soot that needed to be “regenerated” or burned off - the monitoring system would cause a Malfunction Indicator/Check Engine Light to be illuminated in the truck’s cabin.  If the hardware emission system problem was not resolved, the monitoring system could limit the top speed of the truck to as low as five miles per ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-10
    1 week ago
  • Bitcoin Dealer Sentenced to Two Years in Prison and Ordered to Forfeit Ill-Gotten Gains
    Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Ciaffa (619) 546-7748     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – April 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Jacob Burrell Campos of Rosarito, Mexico, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Marilyn L. Huff to serve two years in prison and forfeit $823,357 in illicit profits for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States. Burrell, a U.S. citizen, has been in custody without bail since his arrest on August 13, 2018.  He pleaded guilty on October 29, 2018, admitting that he operated a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, and without implementing the required anti-money laundering safeguards. According to the plea agreement, Burrell advertised his business on Localbitcoins.com, and communicated with his customers through email and text messages, often using encrypted applications.  He negotiated a commission of 5 percent above the prevailing exchange rate, and accepted cash in person, through nationwide ATMs, and through MoneyGram.  Burrell admitted that he had no anti-money laundering or “know your customer” program, and performed no due diligence on the source of his customers’ money.  Burrell admitted that, at first, he purchased his supply of Bitcoin through a U.S.-based, regulated exchange, but his account was soon closed because of the large number of suspicious transactions.  He then resorted to a cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong, where he purchased a total of $3.29 million in ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-07
    2 weeks ago
  • National Crime Victims’ Rights Week 2019: “Honoring Our Past, Creating Hope for the Future”
    Victim Witness Coordinator Polly Montano (619) 546-8921     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – April 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – a time for law enforcement, prosecutorial agencies, victim advocates and community members to come together and support victims of crime – is April 7-13. Upholding the rights of victims not only protects victims of crime, but enhances public safety and fosters public confidence in our criminal justice system.  Agencies that participate in this weeklong tribute will acknowledge and honor crime victims nationwide. The San Diego County Victim Assistance Coordinating Council (VACC) and the United States Attorney’s Office in San Diego invite you to attend the 30th annual Candlelight Tribute for Crime Survivors on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.  The tribute will be held at the San Diego Police Officers’ Association Hall, 8388 Vickers St., San Diego, CA  92111.  The keynote speaker will be U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. The Tribute is a time to memorialize victims and to hear inspirational words from local law enforcement agencies, victim advocates and personal stories from the victims themselves. The Tribute is sponsored by the VACC.  VACC is comprised of the following agencies:  Alliance for Community Empowerment; the Crime and Trauma Recovery Program; the District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Victim Witness Program; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Victim Assistance Program; the Center for Mindful Relationships; Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD); Mothers with a Message; Parents of Murdered Children; San Diego Police Department Crisis ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-07
    2 weeks ago
  • Fallbrook Man Sentenced to 151 Months in Fentanyl Overdose Death
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY April 5, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Corey Bernard Green of Fallbrook was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia to 151 months in prison for distributing the fentanyl that caused the death of 34-year-old Joseth Adam Sellars on November 3, 2017. On November 2, 2017, Sellars told his wife, Rebecca Sellars, that he had been sober for about 100 days.  Two days later, she woke up in the morning and found him lying face down on their living room floor. She called 911 but it was too late. Law enforcement arriving at the scene observed drug paraphernalia and a white powdery substance near his body. The investigation of Sellars’ death found text messages between Sellars and Green indicating that Sellars had supplied heroin laced with fentanyl to Green on November 3, 2017, and that Sellars had taken an Uber to Green’s residence to pick up the substance.  Green was also determined to have conducted a Google search for information related to Sellars’ death, Fallbrook and November 3. The Government’s sentencing papers noted that this case was a “prime example of the extraordinarily devastating impact that fentanyl, a drug far more potent than heroin, has on lives.”  Fentanyl is anywhere from 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin.  As Rebecca Sellars explained in a statement filed with the Government’s sentencing papers, “[i]n an instant, the earth stopped spinning, the sun ceased shining, and all I could see was a world that I didn’t want ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-04
    2 weeks ago
  • Sinaloa Cartel Money Launderer Pleads Guilty; Admits Laundering $13 Million in Drug Money
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY April 4, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Cesar Hernandez-Martinez of Tijuana pleaded guilty in federal court today to managing and supervising an “extensive” international money laundering organization that smuggled $13 million in narcotics proceeds from the United States to Mexico. The narcotics - multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin – were smuggled into the United States from Mexico by a drug-trafficking organization that Hernandez-Martinez acknowledged was a part of, or affiliated with, the Sinaloa Cartel. Hernandez-Martinez, 29, was extradited from Mexico to the United States in September 2018 to face these charges.  Through his plea agreement, Hernandez-Martinez admitted that, from approximately April 2013 until November 2015, he owned and operated currency exchange houses in Tijuana that received smuggled drug proceeds. Hernandez-Martinez further admitted to knowing that money received was from narcotics trafficking activity in the United States. Hernandez-Martinez also coordinated couriers involved in smuggling this currency from the United States to Mexico, ensuring that they picked up the currency from the correct sources who were primarily located in Southern California. Hernandez-Martinez pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal.  Hernandez-Martinez will be sentenced on July 8, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez.  Hernandez-Martinez faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $26 million (twice the value of the funds involved).  Three other defendants previously entered guilty pleas in this case and were sentenced (Omar Ayon-Diaz; Osvaldo Contreras-Arriaga; and Joel Acedo-Ojeda). The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-04-03
    2 weeks ago
  • Twenty Defendants Charged in Drug Indictments; One Alleged Trafficker Charged in Death of Carfentanil User
    Assistant U. S. Attorney A. Dale Blankenship (619) 546-6705     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 27, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Three federal indictments unsealed in San Diego today charge 20 people, including documented gang members and associates, with trafficking in oxycodone, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and ultra-deadly carfentanil from homes in City Heights, College Grove and Imperial Beach. One defendant, Dat Pham Tien Tran aka “Damian,” is charged with distribution of carfentanil resulting in the death of his brother’s longtime girlfriend. The brother, Darren Pham Tran aka “Denny,” is charged with conspiracy to distribute carfentanil and oxycodone. According to a search warrant affidavit, Darren Pham Tran, who overdosed on August 25, 2017 but survived, found his girlfriend dead in her car a few days later, on September 3, 2017. Early this morning, members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies made numerous arrests and searched 11 locations in San Diego. The brothers were arrested in College Grove and 12 others were taken into custody in locations throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. Another defendant was in state custody and five were still at large as of 2 p.m. “As the opioid epidemic rages across the nation, we will do everything we can to save lives,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “That includes pursuing charges against dealers of these drugs that are killing people every single day in this country. In the last several months we’ve prosecuted about a dozen cases in which dealers were accused ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-03-26
    3 weeks ago
  • Leader of Hooligans Motorcycle Gang Admits Stealing Jeeps throughout San Diego County
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Galvin (619) 546-9721 and Joseph S. Green (619) 546-6955 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 26, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Jimmy Josue Martinez, a leader of the Hooligans motorcycle gang, pleaded guilty today and admitted to participating in a sophisticated scheme to steal dozens of Jeep Wranglers in San Diego County using handheld electronic devices and stolen codes.  According to court records, the Hooligans are responsible for the theft of more than 150 Jeep Wranglers worth approximately $4.5 million within San Diego County since 2014. The Hooligans used high-tech methods to disable security systems and steal Jeeps in just a few minutes, in the middle of the night, while unsuspecting owners slept nearby. After stealing the Jeeps in San Diego County, the Hooligans transported them to Tijuana, Mexico, where the vehicles were sold or stripped for parts.  In his plea agreement, Martinez admitted to stealing Jeeps in Pacific Beach, Serra Mesa, Chula Vista, Mission Valley, Ocean Beach, Hillcrest and North Park. Martinez also admitted to leading one of the Hooligans theft crews, which would target a specific Jeep days before the actual theft would take place. Martinez and members of his theft crew obtained the vehicle identification number in advance and then managed to get secret key codes, which allowed them to create a duplicate key for that particular Jeep. Then, during the theft, they disabled the alarm system, programmed the duplicate key using a handheld electronic device, and quietly drove away without notice. In November 2014, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-03-25
    4 weeks ago
  • Former Social Security Administration Employee Admits Stealing Thousands of Dollars in Benefits
    Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 15, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Former U.S. Social Security Administration employee Nam-Phong Hung Le pleaded guilty in federal court today to two felony charges, admitting he stole tens of thousands of dollars in government benefits intended for the elderly and the disabled.  During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino, Le acknowledged that while he was employed as a technical expert at the Social Security Administration, he set up a bank account in the name of two recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Le admitted that he knew both recipients had left the United States and were therefore ineligible for SSI, and that he took over the newly created bank account and personally received almost $30,000 in SSI payments in their names without their knowledge.  Le further admitted that his fraud cost the State of California over $20,000 in medical premium payments made to the SSI recipients after they had left the country, which made them ineligible for subsidized medical benefits. In his plea agreement, Le, 37, admitted that he also exploited his position with the Social Security Administration to identify SSI recipients with “underpayments” – that is, individuals owed lump sum cash payments by the Social Security Administration.  Le admitted that he used the same fraudulent bank account that he had previously created to steal more than $15,000 in money owed to six other individuals, including one deceased person. Le admitted that he ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-03-14
    1 month ago
  • Former MLB All-Star Pitcher Esteban Loaiza Sentenced to Three Years for Cocaine Trafficking
    Assistant U. S. Attorney Larry Casper (619) 546-6734 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY March 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza was sentenced in federal court today to 36 months in prison for knowingly and intentionally possessing 20 kilograms - about 44 pounds - of cocaine with intent to distribute.    In his plea agreement, Loaiza admitted that he took possession of a silver Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle on February 9, 2018 that he knew contained cocaine. He  drove the SUV to a townhouse he’d rented in Imperial Beach, where he transferred the 20 kilograms to another vehicle in the garage. He admitted he did so with the intent to distribute the cocaine to another person. “As a professional athlete, Esteban Loaiza earned tens of millions of dollars and the admiration of baseball fans across the U.S. and Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “And yet he sacrificed his reputation - and now his freedom - to become a cocaine trafficker. No one is above the law, and that includes Major League all-star pitchers.” “Mr. Loaiza lived every young boy’s dream as an All-Star baseball player.  And yet, he chose to be a drug dealer,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.  “He chose to break the law for profit.  He chose to make a buck off someone’s addiction.  Today, society chose to hold him accountable and took away his freedom.” According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Loaiza’s rented townhouse was a “stash house” ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-03-07
    1 month ago
  • Westside Crips Gang Member Sentenced to 82 Months
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alessandra P. Serano (202) 252-5843 or Joseph Orabona (619) 546-7951     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – A leader of the Westside Crips was sentenced to 82 months in prison yesterday for his aggravating role in a racketeering conspiracy involving sex trafficking, narcotics trafficking and other violent crimes as well as possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.     According to court records, Corey DeShawn Austin, aka “Westwood,” admitted to his membership and association with the Westside Crips, which primarily operated in Oceanside and elsewhere.  Austin pleaded guilty to RICO Conspiracy and Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances on August 31, 2018. In furtherance of these crimes, Austin, the lead defendant, admitted he engaged in promoting prostitution of adult females between 2013 and 2015, including while he was in state custody for another offense.  Austin further admitted he possessed narcotics for sale in 2013.  Austin also admitted he promoted the Westside Crips during the RICO conspiracy through photos posted of himself throwing up gang signs and wearing gang colors showing his allegiance to Westside Crips on social media between 2013 and 2016.  At sentencing, the parties disputed whether Austin had an aggravating role in the RICO conspiracy – a finding that would mean a longer sentence. After hearing testimony from the government and defense expert witnesses at an evidentiary hearing on March 4, 2019, and reviewing the submissions by the parties, U.S. District Judge John A. Houston ruled yesterday that ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-03-07
    1 month ago
  • Peter Mazza Sworn in as Second-in-Command at U.S. Attorney’s Office
    Kelly Thornton (619) 609-9960 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 28, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Peter J. Mazza, a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, rejoined the U.S. Attorney’s Office today as second-in-command of one of the busiest federal districts in the nation. Mazza, who was selected by U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, was sworn in by Chief U.S. District Judge Larry Burns during a ceremony this morning. As First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mazza will oversee the day-to-day operations of the office and serve as a trusted advisor to the U.S. attorney. During his eight years as a prosecutor in the San Diego office beginning in 2006, Mazza worked in the General Crimes Section, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Section and the Major Frauds and Special Prosecutions Section, handling a wide variety of complex and significant cases. Mazza led many investigations involving crimes such as multi-million dollar tax and bank fraud schemes, public corruption, racketeering, extortion, money laundering and fraud. Mazza left the office in 2014 to become a partner at Jones Day, specializing in business and tort litigation. Brewer, who was sworn in as U.S. Attorney on January 16, previously worked at Jones Day, where he met Mazza briefly before moving to another firm. The two overlapped for a couple of months in 2014. Brewer said he was impressed by Mazza’s work experience. “I am excited that the office will once again benefit from the depth and breadth of Pete’s expertise and knowledge related to our work and our ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-27
    2 months ago
  • Asylum Seekers Charged with Alien Smuggling
    Assistant U. S. Attorney Kareem Salem (619) 546-8904     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 26, 2019 SAN DIEGO – A couple from El Salvador awaiting the outcome of pending asylum cases was arrested yesterday at the U.S. Border Patrol State Route 94 Immigration Checkpoint and charged with alien smuggling. According to a federal complaint, Edy Giovanni Fuentes-Alvarado and his wife, Kenia Yamileth Gomez-Caballero, approached the primary inspection area of the checkpoint in a white Nissan Armada at 12:06 p.m. Monday. They were referred to secondary inspection to verify their lawful presence in the U.S. after they told agents they are citizens of El Salvador who have an asylum case pending. In secondary, Fuentes told agents that he and his wife came to the area to pick up his cousin, whom they acknowledged was an undocumented immigrant. Fuentes said they were waiting for a phone call from the cousin. An agent received permission from Fuentes to search his phone and discovered text messages appearing to coordinate transportation and a GPS location of the cousin. Border Patrol agents used information from Fuentes’ phone to track the cousin and a second person near the intersection of Otay Lakes Road and State Route 94. Both told the agents they are citizens of El Salvador and illegally present in the U.S. They were taken into custody. DEFENDANTS                                            Case Number 19mj0808                                           Edy Giovanni Fuentes-Alvarado                    Age: 37                       El Salvador Kenia Yamileth Gomez-Caballero                  Age: 36                       El Salvador                 SUMMARY OF CHARGES Transportation of Certain Aliens – Title 8, U.S.C., Section ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-25
    2 months ago
  • San Marcos Man Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Stealing the Identities of Charities as Part of a Tax-Fraud Scheme
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Zipp (619) 546-8463 and Seth Askins (619) 546-6692 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 22, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Robert Holcomb, 53, was sentenced in federal court today to 46 months’ custody and ordered to pay a fine of $600,000, for misappropriating the identities of charities and using them to open bank accounts as part of a long-running tax fraud scheme. Holcomb, who appeared before U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes, was convicted by a federal jury on July 20, 2018 of four counts of making false statements to a financial institution. According to the evidence presented at trial, Holcomb held himself out as an “asset protection” specialist who had the ability to use charitable trust accounts to reduce the tax liability of clients. Holcomb convinced his clients to forward him the profits from their businesses, which he then cycled through a series of bank accounts—with names that sounded like charities—and then returned the funds, minus a commission, with the assurance that they no longer constituted taxable income. Holcomb’s clients then filed tax returns that substantially underreported their true income, resulting in millions of dollars in lost income to the IRS.  Over the course of a decade, Holcomb transferred more than $12 million in otherwise taxable income through his accounts, collecting “commissions” from his clients of more than $1 million dollars. In 2011, after a number of Holcomb’s bank accounts were frozen, he was forced to open dozens of new accounts to keep the tax-evasion scheme ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-21
    2 months ago
  • Participants in $200 Million Workers’ Comp Scheme Sentenced to Prison and More Than $2 Million in Financial Penalties
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Valerie Chu (619) 546-6750, Caroline Han (619) 546-6968 and Fred Sheppard (619) 546-8237 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 22, 2019 SAN DIEGO – This week in federal court a slew of conspirators involved in a massive Workers’ Compensation kickback scheme were ordered to serve prison sentences and pay millions in financial penalties for their roles in the corrupt payment of millions of dollars to induce doctors and other medical professionals to refer hundreds of injured workers for medical treatments and services.  According to court records, dozens of marketers, doctors, lawyers and medical service providers conspired to bilk the Workers’ Compensation system in California by buying and selling patients -- and their individual “body parts” -- like commodities. Among the defendants sentenced this week was an attorney, a chiropractor, two business owners and several marketers who referred patients for tests (such as MRIs, functional capacity exams and sleep studies), treatments (such as “shockwave,” x-rays, and ultrasound), pain medications, and durable medical equipment (DME) based on the corrupt payments.  The conspirators often subjected patients to uncomfortable and sometimes painful procedures, so the conspirators could thereafter bill insurance companies for millions of dollars.  As the government argued in its sentencing papers, the conspirators’ corruption of the doctor-patient relationship caused physicians to see price tags on every patient’s body parts.  Each of the defendants played a critical role in the corrupt scheme. The Corrupt Network Defendant Fermin Iglesias and co-defendant Carlos Arguello operated a patient-capping enterprise, in which they found individuals who ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-21
    2 months ago
  • Leader of Multi-Million Dollar Immigration Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty
    Assistant U. S. Attorneys Andrew Young (619) 546-7981 and Meghan Heesch (619) 546-9442 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 21, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Hardev Panesar pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he orchestrated a long-running immigration-fraud scheme that tricked more than 100 victims out of millions of dollars based on false claims that they could secure immigration status in the United States. Panesar pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel to all counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, four counts of false impersonation of a federal officer, and one count of structuring financial transactions.  Panesar also pleaded guilty to a separate count of failing to appear in court, resulting from his decision “jump bail” and flee to Mexico in June 2018, where he remained a fugitive for two months.       According to his plea agreement, Panesar admitted that from at least 2012 through May 24, 2017, he defrauded immigrants and aliens by inducing them to pay money to him based on fraudulent claims that he and his co-conspirators could obtain legal status in the United States for the victims and their families.  Panesar managed to defraud the victims by, in part, impersonating an official from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and claiming that he had the power to stop deportation proceedings.  To trick his victims, Panesar repeatedly showed fake agency credentials, provided immigration applications, and took fingerprints of victims. He often demanded more money to speed up ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-20
    2 months ago
  • Convicted Felon Sentenced to 151 Months For Possessing 11 Firearms and Dealing Crack Cocaine, Cocaine and Heroin
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY February 15, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Convicted felon Dwight Wayne Jordan, aged 60, a San Diego resident, was sentenced today to 151 months for knowingly and intentionally possessing, with intent to distribute, cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine), cocaine and heroin along with illegally possessing eleven firearms that included semi-automatic weapons, shotguns, and .357 Magnum revolvers among others. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel also ordered forfeiture of each of the eleven firearms and ammunition seized; $43,440 in United States currency; and a 2013 Porsche Cayenne in which a portion of Jordan’s narcotics proceeds were located.  During sentencing, Judge Curiel explained that Jordan’s narcotics distribution efforts were “deadly, crippling and so destructive . . ..” and that Jordan was responsible for putting “so much poison out to a community that is already underserved.”             Through his plea agreement, Jordan admitted that, on September 8, 2018, he was the driver and sole occupant of a BMW X3 traveling on the I-94 near Market Street in San Diego when a San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Officer attempted to conduct a lawful traffic stop.  Although Jordan initially yielded, as the officer exited his vehicle, Jordan accelerated and attempted to flee, running two red lights.  While fleeing, Jordan threw a bag from the car window containing approximately two kilograms of cocaine that was recovered by SDPD.  After the vehicle was stopped, a search yielded more than $6,900 that Jordan later admitted were the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.  The attached photo (Attachment ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-14
    2 months ago
  • Tijuana Trucker Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Import Six Tons of Marijuana to the United States
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 14, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Jesus Armando Tiznado-Duran, a Mexican citizen, pleaded guilty today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler to Count 1 of an Information charging him with knowingly and intentionally conspiring with other persons to import approximately 5705.60 kilograms (12,552.32 pounds) of marijuana. Through his plea agreement, Tiznado-Duran, a Tijuana, Mexico resident and professional truck driver, admitted that on November 6, 2018 he was dispatched by his employer with an empty trailer to a plastics company in Tijuana to pick up a shipment slated for delivery in the United States. Tiznado-Duran deviated from the route he was supposed to take and stopped at a predetermined location in Mexico, where his trailer was loaded with more than 6 tons of marijuana and approximately 15.54 kilograms (34.19) of heroin. Tiznado-Duran then delivered the trailer to another truck driver who was scheduled to drive the shipment of plastics from Tijuana, Mexico into the United States. When that truck driver drove the trailer into the United States at the Otay Mesa, California Port of Entry and presented an invoice listing the contents of the trailer as “plastic fittings,” Customs and Border Protection officials inspected the trailer and discovered it contained marijuana and heroin. The federal narcotics charge to which Tiznado-Duran has pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum ten year sentence and a maximum life.  Tiznado-Duran is scheduled to be sentenced on May 6, 2019 before U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz in San ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-13
    2 months ago
  • San Diego Physical Therapy Clinics’ Owners Pay $450,000 to Resolve Fraud Allegations
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Dylan M. Aste (619) 546-7621 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 13, 2019 Two San Diego physical therapy clinics and their owners have paid $450,000 to resolve allegations that they fraudulently billed military healthcare provider TRICARE for medical services that were supposedly performed by qualified medical doctors, but were actually provided by unqualified and unauthorized employees. South Bay Physical Medicine, Inc. and Direct Health Medical Center, Inc. d/b/a San Diego Spine and Rehabilitation were physical therapy clinics.  Brett Allan, Sr., Brett Allan, Jr. and Jeff Allan owned the clinics.  TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. TRICARE specifically limits billing privileges to enrolled providers for a variety of reasons, including the safety of patients. Some incidental services rendered by non-authorized providers can be billed as “incident to” the services of an enrolled physician, but only under rare circumstances and when the physician provides direct supervision.  The United States alleged that the Allans violated the False Claims Act by billing TRICARE for physical therapy services provided solely by unqualified and unauthorized personnel and without the necessary physician supervision.  “The United States Attorney’s Office works hard to safeguard the integrity of the TRICARE program and the safety of our soldiers and their family members,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.  “Health care fraud hurts the entire health care system, from taxpayers down to honest providers and innocent patients. We are committed to using all available remedies, both civil and criminal, to combat health care fraud.” “The announced resolution is ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-13
    2 months ago
  • Former San Diego Unified School Teacher Sentenced for Receipt of Child Pornography
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Janet Cabral (619) 546-8715 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 11, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Former San Diego Unified School District teacher David Gordon Weaks was sentenced today to 70 months in prison following his guilty plea to one count of receipt of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Weaks was a fifth-grade teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary School up until the time of his arrest. He has been in custody since federal agents executed a search warrant at his home and arrested him on April 19, 2018. Weaks’ term of custody will be followed by an eight-year term of supervised release, including restrictions on his use of the internet. Weaks, 60, came to the attention of agents from Homeland Security Investigations in early April 2018, when agents found that a computer associated with Weaks’ residence was making files of child pornography available for downloading by others through a publicly available peer to peer file sharing network. Analysis of the devices seized from Weaks’ residence at the time of the April 19, 2018, search warrant, revealed that child pornography files were found on a desktop computer, two laptop computers and a backup hard drive. DEFENDANT                                               Criminal Case No. 18cr2469-LAB David Gordon Weaks             Age: 60                       San Diego, CA SUMMARY OF CHARGE Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2) – Receipt of Images of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct Maximum penalties: 20 years in prison (with a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison); $250,000 fine; ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-10
    2 months ago
  • San Diego Genetic Testing Company Agrees to Pay $1.99 Million to Resolve Allegations of False Claims to Medicare for Medically Unnecessary Tests
    Assistant U. S. Attorney Joseph Price (619) 546-7642 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY –  February 11, 2019 SAN DIEGO – GenomeDx Biosciences Corp. (“GenomeDx”) has agreed to pay $1.99 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 et seq., by submitting false claims to Medicare for its “Decipher®” post-operative genetic test for prostate cancer patients. GenomeDx is a genomic testing company with operations based in San Diego and headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia. The United States alleged that GenomeDx submitted claims to Medicare between September 2015 and June 2017 for the Decipher test that were not medically reasonable and necessary because the prostate cancer patients did not have risk factors necessitating the test, namely pathological stage T2 disease with a positive surgical margin, pathological stage T3 disease, or rising Prostate-Specific Antigen (“PSA”) levels after an initial PSA nadir.  “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that Medicare patients only receive laboratory testing that is reasonable and necessary for the individual patient,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph A. Hunt.  “Medically unnecessary and unproven testing increases costs for federal health care programs and is not in the interest of patients.” “As this settlement demonstrates, we are committed to protecting the integrity of the Medicare program and will hold health care providers accountable under the False Claims Act when they engage in improper billing,” said Robert S. Brewer, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. “This settlement is also another example of our commitment ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-10
    2 months ago
  • Former U.S. Navy Captain Sentenced in Sweeping U.S. Navy Corruption and Fraud Probe
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher (619) 546-9714, Robert Huie (619) 546-7053 and Patrick Hovakimian (619) 546-9718 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Former U.S. Navy Captain Jeffrey Breslau, previously the director of public affairs for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was sentenced in federal court today to six months in custody for secretly moonlighting as a paid public relations consultant for foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis. U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino also fined Breslau $20,000, ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service, and ordered Breslau to pay $65,000 in restitution to the Navy – the amount Francis paid the Navy Captain for insider advice that helped the contractor build a business empire that cost the Navy tens of millions of dollars. According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, Breslau authored emails and provided talking points for Francis to create relationships with five Navy admirals and win or maintain lucrative Navy contracts for his Singapore-based ship husbanding company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). Breslau, 52, of Cumming, Georgia, was charged in September 2018 and pleaded guilty in November to one count of criminal conflict of interest, admitting that while he was still employed by the U.S. Navy, Francis paid him more than $65,000 for the public relations consulting services.  Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving scores of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-07
    2 months ago
  • Man Sentenced for Speeding Away with Border Patrol Agent Hanging out of Driver’s Window
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Sausedo (619) 546-9689 and Katherine McGrath (619) 546-9054 SAN DIEGO – John Leland Combs was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for assaulting a U.S. Border Patrol agent by speeding away in a stolen car while the agent was leaning inside the driver’s window, and then leading Border Patrol agents on a high-speed chase on State Route 94, endangering everyone on the road that morning.  Combs was convicted by a federal jury on November 6, 2018 of assault on a federal officer and high speed flight from a checkpoint. According to evidence presented at trial, the assault occurred during the early morning hours of September 2, 2017. Agent Norberto M. Ribac was assigned to the Brown Field Border Patrol Station All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Unit patrolling in the area of Tecate, California. At approximately 5:40 a.m., Agent Ribac discovered northbound shoeprints in the sand approximately 300 yards west of the Tecate Port of Entry. Agent Ribac followed the footprints to Industrial Road, where he discovered Combs standing next to his car, a stolen Hyundai Genesis, and talking on his cell phone, mere yards north of the border fence in Tecate.  Agent Ribac approached Combs and asked him if there was anything or anyone in the car. Combs said he was alone and voluntarily opened the trunk of the car for Agent Ribac to inspect. As Agent Ribac requested registration and records checks for the car, Combs got inside the car in an apparent attempt to leave ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-07
    2 months ago
  • Member of Westside Crips Criminal Street Gang Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy Involving Drug Trafficking, Sex Trafficking and Other Violent Crimes
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alessandra P. Serano (202) 252-5843 or Joseph Orabona (619) 546-7951     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 4, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Westside Crips gang member William McKinley Bright today became the last of 12 defendants to plead guilty, admitting that he participated in a racketeering conspiracy involving narcotics trafficking, sex trafficking and other violent crimes. Bright, aka “Slim,” admitted to his membership and association with the Westside Crips, which primarily operated in Oceanside. Sentencing for Bright is scheduled for May 3, 2019.  In furtherance of the RICO conspiracy, Bright admitted he engaged in multiple narcotics transactions at a local hotel in Oceanside as well as other places in San Diego and Vista, in order to promote the Westside Crips.  Bright admittedly sold gram-quantities of methamphetamine between October 2014 and May 2015.  Bright also acknowledged that he was an active and productive member of the Westside Crips who promoted the gang through use of social media as well as wearing gang colors and displaying gang signs. Bright admitted that the conspiracy in which he was involved resulted in the distribution of at least 150 grams but less than 500 grams of methamphetamine in San Diego County.  In 2017 and 2018, Bright’s coconspirators pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy. They include: Corey Deshawn Austin (aka “Westwood”), Ameer Fareed Roby (aka “Tiny Dum Dum”), Michael Anthony Sullivan (aka “Du-Low”), Peter Andrew Miranda (aka “Fat Boy,” “Baby Rocks,” and “Lil’ Burger”), Shane Robert Anderson (aka “Tiny Westwood”), Jasiri Malcolm Lacey (aka “Baby Westwood”), ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-02-04
    2 months ago
  • Oceanside Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Benefits Intended for Widow of Military Veteran
    Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew C. Brehm (619) 546-8983 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 28, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Michael Vanden Brink of Oceanside was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Houston today to eight months in federal prison for stealing over $145,000 in benefits intended for the widow of a military veteran. At the time of his guilty plea on September 5, 2018, Brink admitted that after the widow’s death in 2004, he converted her Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to his own use.  Brink further acknowledged that he knew that he was not entitled to the victim’s benefits, and that he knew the money deposited into the widow’s bank account (over which he had control) rightfully belonged to the United States.  But rather than notifying the bank that the widow had died, he used the funds to pay for his own personal expenses, ultimately converting a total of $145,035 in Veterans Affairs money to his own use. U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer commended prosecutors and the Criminal Investigators Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, for their hard work on the case. “The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the integrity of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the benefits it provides,” Brewer said. “The prison sentence imposed in this case is an appropriate punishment for someone who, for more than a decade, stole taxpayer money intended for our nation’s veterans and ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-01-27
    3 months ago
  • Robert S. Brewer, Jr. Sworn in as United States Attorney for the Southern District of California
    Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or Cindy Cipriani (619) 546-9608 NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 16, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Robert S. Brewer, Jr., a decorated Vietnam War veteran, former prosecutor and prominent San Diego litigator for decades, was sworn in today as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz. Mr. Brewer took the oath of office in federal court this morning before an audience that included family members, lifelong friends, members of the legal community, judges and staff from the court and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. As the United States Attorney, Mr. Brewer is the chief federal law enforcement officer responsible for prosecuting and defending the interests of the United States in one of the busiest judicial districts in the nation. “It is one of my life’s great honors to serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California,” Mr. Brewer said in a statement. “I am committed to fairness, equality, justice and above all the rule of law. I will draw on my valuable life experiences to uphold these principles and protect our community and our border.  It will be a privilege to work with the skillful and dedicated attorneys and staff in the office.  I also want to highly commend Adam Braverman who served as U.S. Attorney for the past 14 months and Alana Robinson who served as U.S. Attorney from January to November 2017.  Both served with distinction and brought great credit ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-01-15
    3 months ago
  • Two Men Charged in Fentanyl Overdose Death
    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mikaela Weber (619) 546-9734 or Stephen Wong (619) 546-9464     NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 16, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged two men with Distribution of Fentanyl Resulting in Death.  The charges arise out of a 41 year-old woman’s fatal overdose from fentanyl-laced heroin on October 24, 2018.  As detailed in the criminal complaint, on October 24, 2018, officers responded to a 911 call regarding the suspected overdose of a San Diego woman identified in court documents as J.C.G.  When officers and paramedics arrived, they attempted CPR without success and pronounced the woman dead.  The complaint alleges that the San Diego County Medical Examiner conducted an examination and confirmed that the woman’s cause of death was a fentanyl and heroin overdose. The case was immediately assigned to a multi-agency task force, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which investigates drug overdose deaths in San Diego County. According to the criminal complaint, within 24 hours of the woman’s death, task force agents and officers traced the fentanyl-laced heroin back to defendant Travis Ray Ballou, who was arrested on October 25, 2018. The complaint alleges that Ballou sold heroin to J.C.G. on three occasions—October 22, 23, and 24.  On October 23, J.C.G. overdosed and went to the hospital, where she was revived with Narcan, an opioid blocker used for the rapid reversal of opioid overdose. The following day, on October 24, J.C.G. told Ballou about overdosing the day before and requested additional heroin, which Ballou ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-01-15
    3 months ago
  • Defendants Charged Separately In Fentanyl Death Overdose & Pill Trafficking Ring
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 8, 2019 SAN DIEGO – Today, federal prosecutors filed drug trafficking charges against four individuals following a successful undercover operation in which agents acquired over 10,000 potentially deadly fentanyl pills that were smuggled through San Diego Ports of Entry.  In a separate matter, a local San Diego defendant was charged with distributing fentanyl that resulted in the July 18, 2018 death of a San Diego resident. According to the pill ring trafficking complaint, in December 2018, federal undercover agents negotiated with a known drug trafficker based in Tijuana to purchase approximately 4,000 fentanyl pills for $24,000. Following that conversation, the trafficker arranged for defendants to smuggle fentanyl pills through the San Diego Ports of Entry.  On January 7, 2019, defendant Dianna Dominguez arrived in a vehicle with defendants Felix Inzunza-Dominguez, Jr. and Norma Macias-Dominguez.  Inzunza-Dominguez., Jr. eventually exited the vehicle with a bag and headed to the nearby Frye’s parking lot, where he delivered about 4,000 fentanyl pills to an undercover agent, expecting to receive $24,000.  As alleged in the complaint, the bag also contained two condoms, believed to be the smugglers’ method of concealing the fentanyl as they entered the United States.  Defendants Macias-Dominguez and Inzunza-Dominguez, Jr. had previously each delivered 1,000 fentanyl pills to an undercover agent, in exchange for $8,000 per transaction.  Following the above incident, the undercover agent told the trafficker in Mexico that he did not receive the fentanyl pills and requested another 2,000 fentanyl pills. According to the complaint, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2019-01-07
    3 months ago
  • Four Defendants Receive Significant Sentences for Child Exploitation Crimes
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY December 18, 2018 SAN DIEGO - Federal judges sentenced four defendants -- Kenneth Bigler, Jospeh DeLeon, Denziel Buirke, and Karl Kenneth Abbott -- in separate Project Safe Childhood (PSC) criminal matters to significant time in custody yesterday, recognizing the gravity, irreparable harm and heinous nature of sexual offenses that victimize society’s most vulnerable citizens, our children. “One of the Department’s most critical missions is protecting vulnerable children who cannot defend themselves,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman.  “These sentences send a strong message that dangerous sexual predators will be placed under lock and key for as long as necessary to protect our children.” “With today's sentencings, a voice was given to the most defenseless members of our society.  Protecting our children from sexual predators is a priority for the FBI,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Brown. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners here and abroad, to protect our world's children from those who would seek to exploit their innocence.” “Recent cases demonstrate there remains an urgent need to warn parents about the extraordinary risks that sexual predators pose to children.  Especially on the Internet, children are most vulnerable to victimization by people they mistakenly trust,” said Dave Shaw, HSI Special Agent in Charge in San Diego. “Those who engage in this criminal behavior should be forewarned that HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, will use every tool at our disposal to end the sexual exploitation of children and keep ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-12-17
    4 months ago
  • Defendant In Expanding Cocaine Conspiracy Involving Weapons Stockpile Sentenced to 135 Months
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY December 14, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Juan A. Mexicano, aged 33, was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel to 135 months in custody.  Mexicano previously pled guilty, admitting his role in an expanding cocaine distribution conspiracy, extending from Guatemala and Mexico to San Diego and Chicago, that involved the seizure of grenades, .50 caliber firearms, assault weapons and other firearms.      In his plea agreement, Mexicano admitted to maintaining a narcotics stash house in Illinois that he used to distribute cocaine from a Mexican-based trafficker, identified in court documents as “El 99”.  Mexicano also acknowledged that he made arrangements to import cocaine through the Southern District of California and that he possessed weapons seized from a storage facility in Illinois.  The weapons included two hand grenades; a grenade launcher; five .50 caliber weapons; one .22 handgun with a silencer; 26 other assault style weapons, including a submachine gun; more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition; and six ballistic vests.  During sentencing, Judge Curiel noted “this catalog of armaments was capable of mass destruction” and that these weapons “evidence[d] the danger to the community that this group of drug traffickers posed to the community in Illinois.”  Mexicano, who is the fourth defendant to be sentenced in the case, further admitted that the stash house near Chicago was used for the temporary storage of cocaine and acknowledged that up to approximately 150 kilograms (approximately 330 pounds) of cocaine was stored there.  As part ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-12-13
    4 months ago
  • Tractor Trailer Driver Charged With Importing 1,309 Pounds of Methamphetamine, 9.37 Pounds of Heroin, and 2.64 Pounds of Cocaine at the Calexico East Commercial Port of Entry
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 6, 2018 EL CENTRO, CALIFORNIA –   Today, Jose Guadalupe Aviles-Cordero, 60, was arraigned by Magistrate Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro on charges of importing 1,309 pounds of methamphetamine, 9.37 pounds of heroin, and 2.64 pounds of cocaine.  Aviles-Cordero was arrested at the Calexico East Commercial Port of Entry on December 5, 2018.  According to court records, Aviles-Cordero, a Mexican citizen living in Mexicali, Baja California, was the driver of a tractor pulling an empty trailer as it approached the cargo facility.  U.S. Custom Border & Protection (“CBP”) officers found anomalies in the roof area of the trailer.  Upon further inspection of the roof area, CBP officers discovered 90 packages of methamphetamine with a weight of 1,309 pounds, multiple packages of heroin with a weight of 9.37 pounds, and multiple packages of cocaine with a weight of 2.64 pounds. At defendant’s initial appearance, the United States requested detention based on risk of flight.  The detention hearing is scheduled for December 11, 2018 at 10:00 am before Judge Montenegro.  His preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 20, 2018 at 1:30 pm before Judge Montenegro. CBP officers at the border crossings in Southern California routinely stop illegal activity while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States.  Those statistics can be found here: CBP-enforcement-statistics. If you have any information related to suspected smuggling activity at the Calexico East Cargo facility, the Department of Homeland Security encourages you to report it by calling its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-12-05
    5 months ago
  • Two Border Patrol Agents Assaulted in Separate Incidents
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 30, 2018 SAN DIEGO –  Franklin Adriel Rohac-Garci and Frazy Jiron were charged in separate complaints today with assault on a federal officer and illegal entry arising out of incidents that occurred last night.  As alleged in one of the complaints, the first incident occurred when Border Patrol Agent C. Nelson was conducting routine patrol in the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station’s area of resonsibilitity. At approximately 9:30 p.m., Agent Nelson encountered five subjects, including one later identified as defendant Frazy Jiron.  Agent Nelson approached the subjects, identified himself as a Border Patrol agent, and told the group to not move.  Jiron began to stand up and was ordered to lie down.  As Agent Nelson attempted to handcuff Jiron, Jiron made a statement that caused the rest of the group to begin to stand up.    After a brief struggle, Jiron managed to get back to his feet and the rest of the group stood up and began to run. Jiron threw an elbow behind him that struck Agent Nelson in the chest.  A brief struggle ensued, causing both Agent Nelson and Jiron to fall down a hill.  Jiron was later arrested and admitted he is a Honduran citizen, with no legal right to be in the United States. The second charging document alleges that at approximately 10:45 p.m., Border Patrol Agent Brian D. Cox was conducting routine patrol at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station. Agent Cox encountered an individual, later identified as defendant Franklin ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-29
    5 months ago
  • Mexican National Charged with Assaulting Border Patrol Agent
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 29, 2018 SAN DIEGO – A Mexican national attempting to illegally re-enter the United States while armed with a loaded firearm was arrested and charged in an assault on a U.S. Border Patrol agent earlier this week.  According to the criminal complaint, at approximately 4:30 a.m., on Monday November 26, 2018, approximately ½ mile north of the United States/Mexico border, and two miles east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, a United States Border Patrol Agent responded to a radio call-out regarding a person crossing on foot from Mexico to the United States.  After a short search, the agent encountered Hector Rodriguez-Chavez lying face-down in tall grass.  As the agent drew near, Rodriguez turned and pointed a loaded pistol at the agent. The agent placed his body on Rodriguez’s right arm in an attempt to gain control of the pistol.  Rodriguez resisted and the two wrestled for about a minute before two more agents arrived on the scene.  Rodriguez ignored several verbal commands to relinquish the pistol and stop resisting. The second agent to arrive deployed a tazer to subdue Rodriguez and gain control over the pistol.  Rodriguez was detained and arrested. Court records show Rodriguez has a criminal record that includes felony convictions for violent drug, immigration and firearms crimes.  Rodriguez is a Mexican national who has previously been deported from the United States. “Assault on federal officers is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-28
    5 months ago
  • TENNESSEE NURSE PRACTITIONER PLEADS GUILTY FOR ROLE IN $65 MILLION TRICARE FRAUD
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 27, 2018 Candace Michelle Craven, a Tennessee-based nurse practitioner pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that she participated in a health care fraud scheme that bilked TRICARE – the health care program that covers United States service members – out of more than $65 million.  As part of her guilty plea, Craven admitted to conducting sham “telemedicine” evaluations that resulted in the prescription of exorbitantly expensive compounded medications to patients that she never saw or examined in person. Craven entered her guilty plea, to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino, who will sentence Craven at a hearing scheduled for February 8, 2019.  Compounded medications are specialty medications mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Although compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are properly prescribed when a physician determines that an FDA-approved medication does not meet the health needs of a particular patient, such as if a patient requires a particular dosage or application or is allergic to a dye or other ingredient. According to the guilty plea, a team of individuals worked to recruit and pay Marines, primarily from the San Diego area, and their dependents – all TRICARE beneficiaries – to obtain compounded medications that would be paid for by TRICARE.  This information was sent to Choice MD, the Tennessee medical clinic that employed Craven.  Craven then conducted phone calls with the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-27
    5 months ago
  • Convicted Felon Pleads Guilty to Possessing 11 Firearms and Dealing Crack Cocaine, Cocaine and Heroin
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY November 27, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Convicted felon Dwight Wayne Jordan, aged 60, pleaded guilty today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes to a two Count Superseding Information charging him with knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine), cocaine and heroin along with illegally possessing eleven firearms that admittedly included semi-automatic weapons, shotguns, rifles and .357 Magnum revolvers.             Through his plea agreement, Jordan, a San Diego resident, admitted that, on September 8, 2018, he was the driver and sole occupant of a BMW X3 traveling on I-94 near Market Street in San Diego when a San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop.  Although Jordan initially yielded, as the officer exited his vehicle, Jordan accelerated and attempted to flee, running two red lights.  While attempting to evade the officer, Jordan threw a bag from the window that was subsequently recovered by SDPD.  Jordan admitted in his plea agreement that the bag contained approximately two kilograms of cocaine.  After the vehicle was stopped and Jordan arrested, officers recovered more than $6,900 in cash that was admittedly the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.             On September 18, 2018, law enforcement also executed follow-up search warrants at two locations associated with Jordan in San Diego.  Those searches yielded eleven firearms; $36,499 in cash that was also admittedly the proceeds of narcotics trafficking; and significant quantities of cocaine base, cocaine and heroin.  Jordan admitted that he ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-26
    5 months ago
  • Government Contractors Found Guilty in $11 Million Veteran Set-Aside Fraud Scheme
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 21, 2018 SAN DIEGO, CA – A federal jury today convicted Andrew Otero and his company, A&D General Contracting, Inc. (“A&D”), on charges that they fraudulently obtained $11 million in federal contracts specifically set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. The evidence demonstrated that Otero had no military experience.  Yet Otero (on behalf of A&D) and veteran Roger Ramsey (on behalf of Action) participated in a conspiracy to defraud the government by forming a joint venture (“the JV”) – and falsely representing that Action and the JV qualified as service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSB”).  Based on the false claim to SDVOSB eligibility, the conspirators fraudulently obtained approximately $11 million in federal government construction contracts or task orders with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and the Army Corps of Engineers (“ACE”). As proven at trial, the fraudulent conspiracy involved set-aside contracts that could only be bid upon by legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses – a designation that did not apply to Otero or A&D.  To appear qualified, Otero and Ramsey initially executed an agreement to create the JV (“the JV Agreement”), which stated that Ramsey’s company (Action) would be the managing venturer, employ a project manager for each of the set-aside contracts, and receive the majority of the JV’s profits. However, as proved at trial, six months later, Otero and Ramsey signed a secret side agreement that made clear the JV was ineligible under the SDVOSB program. For example, the side agreement said the parties created ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-20
    5 months ago
  • JURY CONVICTS SAN DIEGO EXECUTIVE AND BROKER OF $50 MILLION REAL ESTATE FRAUD
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 20, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Following a two-week trial, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts against finance executive Peter Cash Doye and notary public and real estate broker Raquel Reid for their roles in a massive real estate fraud scheme that generated nearly $50 million in fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds. The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Doye and Reid defrauded lenders into making enormous loans against four multi-million dollar mansions in La Jolla and Del Mar, then used forged documents to make it appear that the loans had been paid off so they could obtain additional loans from new lenders who believed the mansions were owned “free and clear.” Doye, a senior executive at the real estate investment firms Conix, Inc. and Variant Commercial Real Estate (“VCRE”), negotiated the financing from unsuspecting lenders and investors based on a host of lies about the collateral used to secure the loans.  To pull of the scam, Doye, Reid, and their co-conspirators created forged real estate lien “releases” and recorded fraudulent records at the San Diego County Recorder’s Office, complicating the chain of title for these homes.  Reid notarized the forged documents, helping to make the fraudulent paperwork appear authentic.  Doye’s business partner Courtland Gettel and Arizona attorney Jeffrey Greenberg previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme, and are serving sentences of 135 and 81 months, respectively. Gettel and Greenberg were also ordered to pay more than $43 million in restitution to victims, and to forfeit the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-19
    5 months ago
  • Three individuals arrested, charged with conspiracy to kidnap and kill business associate in Mexico
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 20, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Yesterday, federal authorities charged Salam Razuki, Sylvia Gonzales and Elizabeth Juarez with offenses related to a conspiracy to kidnap and kill a business associate over a dispute involving real estate investment properties, most of which were leased to marijuana dispensaries.  All three defendants were arrested last week. According to the complaint, in October 2018, Salam Razuki and Sylvia Gonzales met with a Confidential Human Source and asked the source to arrange to kill one of their business associates, N.M. (name redacted for privacy reasons).  Razuki and Gonzales stated that they had invested in multiple properties and business ventures with N.M. and were now involved in a civil dispute over their assets. They wanted the source to “shoot him in the face,” “to take him to Mexico and have him whacked,” or kill him in some other way.  Razuki and Gonzales provided the source with a picture of N.M. In subsequent conversations earlier this month, defendants Razuki and Gonzales, eventually joined by Elizabeth Juarez, reiterated their desire to have N.M., who they nicknamed “the midget,” taken to Mexico and killed, with Gonzales and Juarez stating they wanted to “put the turkey up to roast before Thanksgiving.”  Defendants offered to pay the source $2,000, with $1,000 to be paid immediately. Defendant Gonzales went to the Goldn Bloom Dispensary and returned with $1,000 cash, which defendants provided to the source along with two addresses for N.M. The complaint further states that on or ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-19
    5 months ago
  • JURY RETURNS CONVICTION ON FELONY ASSAULT ON FEDERAL OFFICER CHARGES
         SAN DIEGO, CA – On Wednesday, October 31, 2018, a jury found defendant Carlos Miranda-Alonso guilty of felony assault on a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1), and felony assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(b).  The defendant separately pleaded guilty to being an alien who knowingly eluded examination and inspection by immigration officers, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(2), a misdemeanor.      According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendant illegally entered the United States on May 10, 2018 by crawling under the International Boundary Fence.  He then spent several hours making his way north before a U.S. Border Patrol Agent stopped the defendant while he was walking out of a protected wildlife estuary and onto a walking path near the Tijuana Estuary Visitor’s Center in Imperial Beach, California.      When the Border Patrol Agent attempted to handcuff the defendant, the defendant swung his arm, hitting the Agent and breaking his grasp.  The defendant then ran several hundred yards into the estuary and for the next several minutes resisted the Agent’s attempts to capture him by striking the Agent’s arms.  When the Agent managed to get the defendant to the ground, the defendant picked up a section of 4x4 wooden fence post, stood up, and swung it at the Agent.  The Defendant dropped the post after the Agent drew his firearm; no shots were fired.  After approximately 15 minutes, the defendant was apprehended by ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-02
    6 months ago
  • Northrop Grumman Subsidiary Agrees to Pay $31.65 Million for Overbilling U.S. Air Force in Civil and Criminal Settlements
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 2, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation (“NGSC”), a subsidiary of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, with offices in San Diego, California, agreed today to pay a total of $31.65 million to settle civil and criminal investigations into fraud arising out of its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (“BACN”) and Dynamic Re-tasking Capability (“DRC”) contracts with the United States Air Force.  NGSC agreed to pay $27.45 million to settle civil allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by overstating the number of hours its employees worked on the BACN and DRC contracts with the United States Air Force.  Additionally, NGSC agreed to forfeit $4.2 million in a separate agreement to resolve a criminal investigation into fraudulent billing on the BACN contract.  In exchange for admitting its employees’ misconduct, making full restitution, and agreeing to cooperate in the ongoing criminal investigation, no criminal charges will be filed against NGSC. In the agreement resolving the criminal investigation of NGSC, the company admitted that its employees deployed to an air base in the Middle East defrauded the Air Force by overbilling time charged to the BACN contract.  Specifically, from January 2011 to October 2013, NGSC employees charged exactly 12 or 13.5 hours per day, seven days a week, despite the fact that the employees were not working those hours.  NGSC admitted that its employees billed time to the BACN contract when its employees were not working and engaged in leisure activities, such as golfing, skiing, visiting local ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-11-01
    6 months ago
  • Brothers Operating Import/Export Business Plead Guilty to International Drug Trafficking
    For Further Information, Contact:Assistant U. S. Attorney Benjamin Katz (619) 546-9604 SAN DIEGO –Nathan Dulley and Andrew Dulley, brothers from Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty today for their role in trafficking drugs for former USC football player Owen Hanson’s “ODOG” Enterprise, an international drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal gambling syndicate that operated in the United States, Central and South America, and Australia from 2012 to 2016.  According to court records, the ODOG Enterprise trafficked thousands of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA (also known as “ecstasy”), and other drugs, routinely distributing controlled substances at wholesale and retail levels around the world.  The Dulley brothers, who imported and exported fine chocolate, played an integral role in the ODOG Enterprise by shipping large quantities of cocaine from the United States to Australia.  Upon receipt of cocaine from Hanson or his associates – usually in quantities of tens of kilograms or more – the Dulleys would intermix and package the cocaine with legitimate merchandise, so as to disguise the true contents from the shipper and customs authorities.  Using their established import/export routes, the Dulleys would then send the cocaine to Australia, where it was distributed and sold by other members of the ODOG Enterprise. “Transnational racketeering organizations represent a clear and present danger to the safety and security of our communities.  Those who assist such criminal enterprises by allowing the corruption of their otherwise legitimate businesses will be held accountable for the harm wrought on our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-31
    6 months ago
  • Guatemalan Drug Trafficker Who Coordinated Maritime Cocaine Loads on High Seas Pleads Guilty
    For Further Information, Contact:Assistant U. S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson (619) 961-0287     SAN DIEGO –   Defendant Luis Carlos Melgar-Morales, aka Aquaman, pled guilty today in a San Diego federal district court to international conspiracy to distribute over 10,000 kilograms of cocaine, knowing that the cocaine would be distributed in the United States, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 959, 960 and 963.  He also admitted to criminal forfeiture in the amount of $1,000,000. Melgar-Morales, 28, admitted engaging in a two-year conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine in the United States and conceded he was a manager and leader of the responsible drug trafficking organization.  In furtherance of the charged conspiracy, and at direction of Willian Lemus, Melgar-Morales arranged for multiple go-fast vessels to travel in international waters on many occasions to transport bulk cocaine from Colombia and Ecuador, known source countries for the cocaine, to Costa Rica and Guatemala, and from there the drugs would be transported to Mexico and smuggled into the United States.   Melgar-Morales also facilitated and coordinated the points of travel of the cocaine-laden go fast vessels as they met with refueling vessels on the high seas and communicated to the transportation network about the vessels’ status as they journeyed north.  In addition, he facilitated and coordinated the successful delivery of cocaine vessels from Columbia and Ecuador to Costa Rica and Guatemala.  Melgar-Morales admitted that the international conspiracy involved the distribution of over 10,000 kilograms of cocaine during the two-year period from January 2016 ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-31
    6 months ago
  • Two San Diego men plead guilty to robbery spree involving 10 Metro PCS stores and a Subway restaurant
    For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U. S. Attorneys Stephen H. Wong (619) 546-9464 andLara A. Stingley (619) 546-8403     Carlos Adolfo Soto and Justin Wayne Caldwell pleaded guilty today in federal court to robbing 10 Metro PCS stores and a Subway restaurant in January and February of 2017.  The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Soto was dubbed the “pinky bandit” for his distinctive pinky finger, which protruded out from the weapons he held during a string of eleven robberies beginning on January 25, 2017 and ending on February 21, 2017.  As described in the plea agreements, the robberies targeted Metro PCS stores in and around San Diego County.  In a typical robbery, Soto would enter the store holding a weapon such as a machete, tazer, or pellet gun that resembled a firearm.  Soto would point his weapon at store clerks and demand cellular phones and cash.  Caldwell typically waited outside the store in his vehicle, serving as the getaway driver who helped Soto escape the crime scene.  On at least one occasion, Caldwell also entered the store with a weapon.  For example, on February 14, 2017, the robbers pointed an object that resembled a handgun at a store clerk and forced the clerk into a storage area in the back of the store, kneeling down on his hands and feet, while they loaded a backpack with cellular phones. The robbers then ordered the clerk to open the cash register. Public filings describe ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-31
    6 months ago
  • Chinese Intelligence Officers and Their Recruited Hackers and Insiders Conspired to Steal Sensitive Commercial Aviation and Technological Data for Years
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2018                                                                          WWW.JUSTICE.GOV                                                                             Chinese Intelligence Officers and Their Recruited Hackers and Insiders Conspired to Steal Sensitive Commercial Aviation and Technological Data for Years Chinese intelligence officers and those working under their direction, which included hackers and co-opted company insiders, conducted or otherwise enabled repeated intrusions into private companies’ computer systems in the United States and abroad for over five years.  The conspirators’ ultimate goal was to steal, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business information, including information related to a turbofan engine used in commercial airliners. The charged intelligence officers, Zha Rong and Chai Meng, and other co-conspirators, worked for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (“JSSD”), headquartered in Nanjing, which is a provincial foreign intelligence arm of the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security (“MSS”). The MSS, and by extension the JSSD, is primarily responsible for domestic counter-intelligence, non-military foreign intelligence, and aspects of political and domestic security.  From at least January 2010 to May 2015, JSSD intelligence officers and their team of hackers, including  Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi, focused on the theft of technology underlying a turbofan engine used in U.S. and European commercial airliners.  This engine was being developed through a partnership between a French aerospace manufacturer with an office in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, and a company based in the United States. Members of the conspiracy, assisted and enabled by JSSD-recruited insiders Gu Gen and Tian Xi, hacked the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-29
    6 months ago
  • San Diego Jury Convicts Child Predator
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY –  October 25, 2018 SAN DIEGO, CA – On Thursday, October 25, 2018 a federal jury in San Diego, California, found Isaiah Smallwood-Jackson guilty of production of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and enticement of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), announced United States Attorney Adam Braverman. The convictions trigger mandatory minimum sentences of 15 and 10 years, respectively.   According to evidence presented at trial, Smallwood-Jackson began communicating with a 14-year-old girl, using the social media application “Spotafriend.” The victim’s profile listed her true age of 14.  Smallwood-Jackson admitted during chats with the victim that he was 21 years old and did not care that the victim was a minor.  Communicating over social media, Smallwood-Jackson discussed sexual acts he wanted to perform with the minor. He convinced her to produce and send him sexually explicit pictures and to provide her address.  The minor repeatedly told Smallwood-Jackson that she was not sure she wanted to meet with him, but he told her to “take a leap of faith.”  He then traveled to her home, convinced her to come outside, and engaged in sexual activity with her.  In texts afterward, Smallwood-Jackson apologized for hurting the minor victim.  She disclosed the event to her sister, who reported it to law enforcement. “Internet predators beware: the Department of Justice is committed to striking back against repugnant crimes against innocent children," said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.  “No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse.  ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-28
    6 months ago
  • Bitcoin Dealer Pleads Guilty & Agrees to Forfeit Ill-Gotten Gains
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 29, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Jacob Burrell Campos pled guilty today in federal court to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States from January 2015 to April of 2016.                According to the terms of his plea agreement, Burrell admitted to operating a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, and without implementing the required anti-money laundering safeguards.  According to the plea agreement, Burrell advertised his business on Localbitcoins.com, and communicated with his customers through email and text messages, often using encrypted applications.  He negotiated a commission of 5% above the prevailing exchange rate, and accepted cash in person, through nationwide ATMs, and through MoneyGram.  Burrell admitted that he had no anti-money laundering or “know your customer” program, and performed no due diligence on the source of his customers’ money.  Burrell admitted that, at first, he purchased his supply of Bitcoin through a U.S.-based, regulated exchange, but his account was soon closed because of the large number of suspicious transactions.  He then resorted to a cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong, where he purchased a total of $3.29 million in Bitcoin, in hundreds of separate transactions, between March 2015 and April 2017.  Finally, Burrell admitted that he exchanged his U.S. currency, which he kept in Mexico, with Joseph Castillo, a San Diego-based precious metals dealer.  ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-28
    6 months ago
  • Vista Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking and Firearms Offenses
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 26, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Arash Sean Soltani of Vista was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for possession of methamphetamine and marijuana with intent to distribute and for possession of firearm in furtherance of his drug trafficking activities, by the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel, United States District Judge, Southern District of California. At the time of his guilty plea, Soltani admitted that he possessed four AR15-style rifles, a fully automatic handgun, and several thousand rounds of ammunition to protect his supply of more than half a pound of methamphetamine and 136 marijuana plants and to further his drug trafficking activities.  According to court records, in addition to the firearms, ammunition, methamphetamine and marijuana plants, law enforcement officers also seized marijuana oil extraction equipment, harvested and concentrated cannabis, cannabis oil and a scale with marijuana residue during a search of Soltani’s two homes in Vista.  “Fighting violent crime is a top priority for our office,” said United States Attorney Adam Braverman.  “San Diego has the lowest crime rate in 49 years and the lowest violent crime rate of all major cities in the nation last year. We will continue to prosecute cases like this to keep San Diego safe.”  “ATF recognizes the role firearms play in violent crimes and focuses on armed violent offenders and career criminals, narcotics traffickers, violent gang activity, and domestic and international arms trafficker’s” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Los ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-25
    6 months ago
  • Former U.S. Navy Commander Sentenced for Bribery Conspiracy with Foreign Defense Contractor in Massive U.S. Navy Corruption and Fraud Case
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 19, 2018 SAN DIEGO – Former U.S. Navy Commander Troy Amundson was sentenced today to 30 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine and $21,625.60 in restitution for federal bribery conspiracy charges by the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.  Amundson is the latest U.S. Navy official to plead guilty and be sentenced in the wide-ranging corruption and fraud investigation involving foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). Amundson, 50, of Ramsey, MN earlier this year pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting that he conspired with Francis and others to receive things of value, including entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes, in exchange for taking official acts for the benefit of GDMA and violating his official duties to the United States Navy. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs. According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, from May 2005 to May 2013, Amundson served as the officer responsible for coordinating the U.S. Navy’s joint military exercises with its foreign navy counterparts.  As part of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-18
    6 months ago
  • DRUG CARTEL LEADER CHARGED_Juan Perez-Vargas, aka Piolin, Indicted as Part of Coordinated Nationwide Enforcement Efforts Against Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion
    NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – October 16, 2018 SAN DIEGO – The Department of Justice announced today a series of measures to target and dismantle the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) – one of the largest, most dangerous drug cartels currently operating in Mexico. As part of those measures, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, announces the indictment of CJNG leader, Juan Perez-Vargas, aka Piolin. A federal grand jury in San Diego returned a sealed indictment on January 27, 2017, charging Perez-Vargas, with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation, and Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances. On January 30, 2017, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest. On September 20, 2017, Perez-Vargas was arrested in Guadalajara, Mexico pursuant to these charges in the United States and is currently awaiting extradition to San Diego. CJNG is one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and the Department of Justice considers it to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world, responsible for trafficking numerous tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States. Founded in 2011, CJNG has grown in size and strength rapidly since its inception. Today, the DEA estimates the CJNG exerts influence in 23 of 31 (75 percent) of Mexican states, including key drug production and transportation corridors. CJNG is also responsible for significant amounts of violence and loss of life in Mexico. CJNG gained its power in Mexico as a result ... read more
    Source: DOJ – South CAPublished on 2018-10-15
    6 months ago