LOS ANGELES – A Tijuana woman who was charged in the first major narcotics trafficking indictment resulting from an investigation by the Los Angeles Strike Force was sentenced today to 151 months in federal prison for transporting 21 pounds of pure methamphetamine across the United States-Mexico border on behalf of a drug trafficking organization linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
Diana Margarita Ortega Garcia, 25, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.
A federal jury found Ortega guilty in August of one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine following a three-day trial.
Ortega was one of 22 defendants named in a 19-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed in June. The defendants allegedly were responsible for the importation of hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico into the United States. The narcotics were distributed throughout the country via a network of cartel associates, and the proceeds from the domestic narcotics sales were then funneled back to Mexico, according to the indictment.
During the two-year wiretap investigation, members of the Strike Force seized narcotics with an approximate street value in Los Angeles of more than $6 million, including approximately 290 pounds of methamphetamine, 280 pounds of cocaine, 30 pounds of heroin and 81 pounds of marijuana.
Ortega is one of 10 defendants who have been taken into custody pursuant to the indictment. The other nine defendants are currently scheduled to go on trial on March 13.
The evidence presented during Ortega's trial showed that she used her own vehicle to drive the concealed methamphetamine across the international border on February 1, 2015. Ortega agreed to smuggle the narcotics in exchange for $6,000, and she took the 21 pounds of methamphetamine to a drop house in the Moreno Valley. Most of the methamphetamine was seized by law enforcement in the days after the delivery.
The Los Angeles Strike Force investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Marshals Service and the Azusa Police Department.
The indictment issued as a result of the Strike Force investigation revealed a sophisticated international drug trafficking network that regularly transported narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border and at times stored drugs in “stash houses” located in the San Gabriel Valley. The narcotics then were distributed throughout the United States.
The Los Angeles Strike Force was formed in 2014 to target Mexican drug cartels that utilize the Los Angeles metropolitan region as a primary hub for the distribution of narcotics across the United States. The goals of the Strike Force are to target high-level narcotics traffickers, disrupt and dismantle the cartels' narcotics trafficking and related money laundering activities, and arrest and prosecute the cartels' leaders and operatives.
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.
If the remaining defendants in this case are convicted, all of them would face potential sentences of life without parole in federal prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer A. Corbet and A. Carley Palmer of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and Scott Lara of the General Crimes Section.
Component(s): USAO – California, Central
Contact: Thom Mrozek Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer United States Attorney's Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) 213-894-6947
Press Release Number: 17-219Updated December 12, 2017
Central District of California DOJ / 17-219 / December 11, 2017