LOS ANGELES– As the result of a seven-month investigation by special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), federal grand juries have issued nine indictments that charge a total of 13 defendants with firearms and narcotics violations.
During an early morning operation today, authorities arrested ten of the federal defendants. Two of the defendants under indictment are currently fugitives and one defendant is already in state custody. This morning's operation also resulted in the seizure of 13 additional firearms, approximately two and one-half pounds of methamphetamine, approximately a quarter pound of crack cocaine, and approximately quarter pound of heroin.
In addition to the 13 federal defendants, authorities have arrested eight other defendants who are expected to be prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
From February through July, the joint ATF-LAPD operation called Crime Area Gun Enforcement (CAGE) targeted violent offenders, gang members and previously convicted felons and their associates who were suspected of being involved in illegal firearm possession and sales, as well as narcotics distribution, in the San Fernando Valley. Investigators used confidential informants as part of an undercover operation in which ATF agents purchased contraband. As a result of the CAGE operation, authorities have seized approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine and 40 weapons, including restricted firearms such as short-barrel rifles and silencers. The investigation also uncovered two locations where AR-15- and AK-47-type rifles were being clandestinely manufactured or illegally sold.
“This operation has removed dangerous drugs from the black market and has shut off a source of illegal firearms that can cause so much violence and damage in our neighborhoods,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Criminals who engage in the illegal trafficking of drugs and guns can and should expect to be prosecuted, especially when they have previously been convicted of similar crimes.”
“ATF is committed to reducing violent crime,” said Eric Harden, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF's Los Angeles Field Division. “ATF accomplishes this by working with LAPD and identifying and targeting criminal organizations and the persons responsible for perpetrating violence in our communities.”
“There is no doubt that removing guns from our streets and arresting criminals who use and carry guns prevents senseless violence in our communities,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “Removing even one gun from the streets means one less Angeleno robbed, shot, or murdered. Removing illegal guns is one of the LAPD's highest priorities and working with our federal partners will help make our communities safer.”
Over the past several weeks, federal grand juries returned nine indictments that charge 13 defendants. Those defendants facing federal charges are:
• Fidel Moreno-Dominguez, 47, of Palmdale, and Walter Wilfredo Lagos, 34, of Palmdale, who are charged with conspiracy to distribute one pound of methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine. Moreno-Dominguez is additionally charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after being convicted of selling narcotics. Lagos is currently a fugitive.
• Robert Steven Carrillo, 31, of Redlands, and Alexander Ramirez Manzo (also known as “Dozer”), 34, of Pacoima, who are charged with conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, and possession of unregistered firearms. Manzo additionally is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after being convicted of burglary and sale of a controlled substance.
• Brandon C. Torres, 30, of Van Nuys, who is charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition after being convicted of possession of a controlled substance, and distribution of approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine.
• Antonio Cisneros, also known as “Trippy,” 31 of North Hollywood, and Gino Cesar Dresda, 24, of Panorama City, who are charged with distribution of approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine. Additionally, Cisneros is charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, distribution of a second quarter-pound of methamphetamine, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition after being convicted of possessing a controlled substance and firearms offenses. Cisneros is currently a fugitive.
• Anival Alvarez, 41, of San Fernando, and Maribel Lopez-Reyes, 30, also of San Fernando, who are charged with for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and two counts of distributing approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine.
• Luis Angel Torres, 28, of Palmdale, who is charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license, and two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition after being convicted of possession for sale of a controlled substance.
• Rudy Salazar, 36, of Mission Hills, who is charged with distribution of approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine.
• Albert Benjamin Perez, also known as “Dragon,” 57, of Granada Hills, who is charged with distribution of methamphetamine.
• Steven Clyde Neaville, 53, of Van Nuys, who is charged with distribution of approximately one-quarter pound of methamphetamine.
Those taken into federal custody this morning were arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles, and all were ordered detained.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The 13 federal defendants are facing statutory maximum sentences ranging from five years in federal in federal prison to life imprisonment for the charges contained in the indictments. Some of the federal defendants are also facing mandatory minimum sentences of five or 10 years in connection with certain drug distribution charges.
The federal cases brought as part of the CAGE operation are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julian L. André and Karen E. Escalante of the General Crimes Section.
USAO – California, Central Updated November 2, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-268 / November 2, 2016