A federal grand jury in California has indicted 10 men for allegedly smuggling fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin into the U.S. from Mexico, by packing the narcotics into fire extinguishers and concealing the devices in loads of scrap metal.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said a two-year investigation called Operation “Smoke Jumpers” resulted in 13 seizures including 680,992 fentanyl pills, 3 kilograms of fentanyl powder, 17 kilograms of heroin and 10,418 pills containing methamphetamine.

The operation ran from Feb. 8 – 12, during which nine defendants were arrested.

There are also seven additional suspects who federal agents believe are in Mexico.

US STUDY FINDS MORE PEOPLE DIE AFTER SMOKING DRUGS LIKE FENTANYL THAN INJECTING THEM

The defendants who were arrested are:

  • Oscar Ahumada Leyva, 43, of Mexico;
  • Miguel Antonio Rabago Valenzuela, 42, of Mexico;
  • Gustavo Rivero Rodriguez, 39, of Mexico;
  • Carlos Espinoza, 38, of Alhambra;
  • Erick Roque Angeles, 39, of Fontana;
  • David Sanchez Balderas, 26, of Denver;
  • Fernando Salgado, 36, of Riverside;
  • Rocio Guadalupe Acevedo Tonche, 32, of Ontario; and
  • Efren Quibrera Espinoza, 29, of Cudahy

Federal agents believe seven other suspects, now fugitives, are in Mexico.

The 15-count indictment unsealed on Feb. 8, accuses the defendants of drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy.

CLIFFSIDE COLLAPSE IN CALIFORNIA: MANSIONS TEETER ON EDGE AS MORE BAD WEATHER FORECASTED

Operation Smoke Jumpers fugitives

Five of six suspects taken into custody in the Los Angeles and Inland Empire regions have pleaded guilty and been arraigned. They are expected to stand trial on April 2.

Angeles was scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, and Baez-Duarte, 33, was already in state custody.

Estrada’s office said in a press release that the investigation focused on the San Diego-based Carin Trucking, owned by Leyva. The company operated at least six semi-trucks that drove from Mexico into the U.S. to deliver suspected narcotics to the Los Angeles area.

7 LA FIREFIGHTERS INJURED AFTER TRUCK’S FUEL TANK EXPLODES

The narcotics were concealed in fire extinguishers disguised as scrap metal, then later as what looked like legitimate fire extinguishers, a search warrant into Espinoza’s phone alleged.

“Investigators have observed multiple drug transactions involving truck drivers and their semi-trucks,” according to the affidavit in support of the search warrant. “The truck driver would drive into the United States from Mexico and cross the border usually carrying a load of scrap metal, and concealed inside will be a scrap metal fire extinguisher containing drugs. The truck driver would then make his way up to Los Angeles, to meet a courier, who would pick up the drug-packed fire extinguishers for further distribution.”

If convicted, the two narcotics conspiracies and 12 drug possession offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, up to life behind bars. The 15th count of money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The FBI led the investigation and was assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the South Gate Police Department, IRS Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and several other federal, state and local agencies.

Share.

Leave A Reply

© 2024 Time Bulletin. All Rights Reserved.