May 6, 2014

Four Indicted for Drug Trafficking Crimes Involving a Violent Kidnapping in St. Paul

MINNEAPOLIS—United States Attorney Andrew Luger announced today that a United States grand jury indicted four men for their roles in a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking organization and a violent kidnapping in St. Paul. The indictment, returned on May 5, 2014 and unsealed today, charges Jesus Ramirez, 31, of Los Angeles, California; Jonatan Delgado Alvarez, 22, of Los Angeles, California; Juan Ricardo Elenes Villalvazo, a.k.a. Chapo, 32, of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Antonio Navarro a.k.a. Tony Sanchez, 19, of St. Paul, Minnesota.

The indictment alleges that Ramirez, Alvarez, Villalvazo, and Navarro participated in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. According to the indictment, Navarro and Villalvazo maintained a stash house in St. Paul for storing large amounts of methamphetamine for distribution as part of the conspiracy.

On April 14, 2014, defendants Ramirez and Alvarez flew from Los Angeles, California to Minnesota in response to a report that approximately 30 pounds of methamphetamine had been stolen from the stash house two days earlier. On the evening of April 14, the four defendants kidnapped two victims at gunpoint and held them captive against their will at the stash house. The defendants bound and beat the victims and made violent threats against their lives and the lives of their family members, while demanding information about the missing methamphetamine. According to the indictment, Villalvazo cut one of the victim’s fingers, nearly severing it, while Ramirez held the victim down. After determining that the victims had no information about the missing drugs, the defendants released them.

Upon leaving the stash house at approximately 7:30 p.m. on April 15, Navarro was arrested by law enforcement officers, who had surrounded the premises. At approximately 7:40 p.m. that night, Alvarez attempted to leave the stash house and was also arrested by law enforcement officers. In the early morning hours of April 16, Ramirez flew back to Los Angeles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He was arrested the following day at a hotel in a Los Angeles suburb after leading police officers on a high-speed car chase.

All four defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. In addition, the indictment alleges that Ramirez carried a firearm and used it to kidnap and threaten the victims.

If convicted, all four defendants could face a potential maximum penalty of life in prison for the drug conspiracy charge. Ramirez faces a potential minimum penalty of seven years in prison for the firearm charge. All sentences are ultimately determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Safe Streets Task Force. Safe Streets is a FBI-sponsored task force that focuses on combating violent street crime, as well as gang and drug-trafficking offenses. Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department and the St. Paul Police Department, who are members of the Safe Streets Task Force, were instrumental in the investigation of this case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey S. Paulsen. The defendants will make their first appearance today at 2:00 p.m. in federal court in St. Paul before Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung.

United States Attorney Andrew Luger commended the work of the Safe Streets Task Force, saying, “The allegations in the indictment are a frightening reminder of the violent capabilities of drug traffickers. Safe Streets and our office are dedicated to protecting our citizens from this type of outrageous and violent conduct.”

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.