A Baja California smuggling ring moved meth, fentanyl and cocaine across the United States, prosecutors say – Update Cali

A San Diego mother of three was sentenced this week to nearly six years in federal prison for her role in a Baja California drug-smuggling ring run by her brother that a judge estimated likely brought “thousands of pounds of drugs” into the United States. of states.

Her conviction and several other recent plea deals and sentences stem from a 14-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in May charging 17 people with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. The woman sentenced Monday, Angela Diana Guerrero, pleaded guilty to that charge and to money laundering charges, while several other members of the alleged conspiracy faced charges of importing drugs or possessing drugs with intent to distribute.

As of Wednesday, the leader of the smuggling ring remained at large. Although his name remains sealed on the indictment, court records and courtroom testimony identified him as Israel Guerrero, the brother of the woman convicted Monday. The name of the other top defendant in the case also remains sealed and that person remains at large.

Prosecutors said the charges were the result of a federal task force investigation dubbed “Operation Big Mouth” that resulted in the seizure of more than 340 pounds of methamphetamine, 130 pounds of cocaine, 23 pounds of fentanyl and 6 pounds of heroin. Federal agents also seized at least 13 firearms and $55,000 linked to the smuggling ring, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel said Monday that the numbers represented only “what we know” but that it was likely the group had previously brought “thousands of pounds of drugs into the United States.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Sausedo declined to say Wednesday whether the group had any ties to Mexican cartels, but said the group “clearly had significant sources of supply to get the amount (of drugs) they were bringing into the country.”

Sausedo said federal agents began investigating the group in July 2021 and by May had made dozens of drug seizures that typically totaled between 45 and 90 pounds. Sausedo told a judge during a detention hearing for one of the defendants that the group transported drugs across the border in buckets that allegedly contained construction materials such as drywall mud.

According to a sentencing memorandum for one of the defendants, the drugs were then moved to cities throughout California, as well as Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

Angela Guerrero’s attorney declined to comment on her client’s behalf because parts of the case remain sealed, but in sentencing documents and in court, the attorney said her client’s brother was the one who implicated her in the group.

Curiel sentenced another defendant, Elizabeth Allison Edelman, to 13 years in prison. Sausedo said Edelman received a longer sentence because she not only smuggled drugs across the border, but also ran her own distribution network in the Bay Area.

The highest-ranking defendant taken into custody so far, Danny Lamar Miller-Kidd, is scheduled to testify in the case next week. His role in the human trafficking organization remains unclear based on public records in the case.

Court records show Miller-Kidd, who lives in Nevada, was released from custody in August after his initial arrest. But he was arrested again in October and has remained in custody since then after Las Vegas police pulled him over for a traffic violation and searched his black Cadillac STS luxury sedan. Inside the vehicle, they reportedly found a short-barreled rifle with no serial number, numerous high-capacity magazines including drum magazines, body armor and several gun parts typically used to make ghosts.

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